Transition of the world economy far off course

Transition of the world economy far off course


In virtually every sector, the greening of the global economy is progressing far too slowly to avert climate catastrophe, according to a sobering report on Wednesday by a consortium of research organizations.

From energy, industry and transport to food production, deforestation and finance, progress on 40 key indicators needs to accelerate dramatically – in many cases by 10 times or more – to reach the Paris Agreement target of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees , comply with Celsius.

The Earth’s surface has already warmed by 1.2°C, enough to trigger a deadly and costly crescendo of climate-related storms, floods, droughts and heat waves.

In at least five areas, those trendlines are still going completely the wrong way, according to the 200-page analysis, which comes 12 days ahead of the crucial UN climate talks in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

These include the share of natural gas in electricity generation, the car mileage share and the CO2 pollution caused by agriculture.

“We’re not winning in any sector,” said Ani Dasgupta, head of the World Resources Institute, one of half a dozen climate policy think tanks that contributed to the report.

The results, he said, are “an urgent wake-up call for decision-makers to commit to real transformation in all aspects of our economy.”

– Clean energy –

Researchers compared current efforts to those needed by 2030 and mid-century to limit warming to 1.5°C and quantified the global mitigation gap.

“The hard truth is that none of the 40 indicators we assessed are on track to meet their 2030 targets,” said lead author Sophia Boehm, a researcher at the Systems Change Lab.

To avoid dangerous overheating, global carbon pollution needs to fall by 40 percent by the end of this decade. By 2050 the world must be carbon neutral and offset any remaining emissions through carbon removal.

Of most concern, the authors said in a briefing, are deficits in the energy sector and the lack of progress in curbing deforestation.

Phasing out coal for power generation without filtering carbon emissions needs to happen six times faster, equivalent to shutting down nearly 1,000 coal-fired power plants per year over the next seven years, they found.

The power sector is the largest source of global CO2 emissions, and coal – which accounts for almost 40 percent of the world’s electricity – is by far the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel.

“If our solution to many things is electrification, then we need to make sure the electricity is clean and fossil-fuel-free,” said co-author Louise Jeffery, an analyst at the New Climate Institute.

The huge increase in solar and wind power has not been enough to keep up with the growing demand for energy.

– “Irreversible” forest loss –

According to the report, progress on deforestation needs to accelerate by a factor of two to three to keep the 1.5 degree target within reach.

“The loss of primary forest is irreversible, both in terms of carbon storage and as a haven for biodiversity,” said co-author Kelly Levin, director of science, data and systems change at the Bezos Earth Fund.

“If meeting the 1.5 degree target is a challenge now, if you take away our carbon sinks, it’s totally impossible,” she added, referring to the role of forests and soils in absorbing about 30 percent of that carbon pollution of humanity.

Other key findings from the report on the pace of change needed this decade:

– Public transport systems such as subways, light rail and public bus networks must be expanded six times faster;

– The amount of carbon emitted in cement production must decrease ten times faster;

– Per capita meat consumption – still on the rise – must fall and the switch to a sustainable diet must be five times faster.

The report also looked at climate finance.

“Governments and private institutions are failing to meet the Paris Agreement goals of aligning financial flows with the 1.5 degree limit,” said Claire Fyson, analyst at Climate Analytics.

The analysis showed that global climate finance – certainly a key sticking point at the UN talks in Egypt – needs to grow more than 10 times faster than recent trends, from US$640 billion in 2022 to US$5.2 billion in 2022 year 2030.

At the same time, governments are still pouring money into fossil fuels, spending nearly $700 billion in public funds on coal, oil and gas in 2020.

Major economies nearly doubled spending on fossil fuel production and consumption subsidies between 2020 and 2021.

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