This presentation is free to download, reuse and adapt for your own audience. It covers the climate emergency, the momentum building across civil society and the real economy to counter it, and why reaching a climate turning point in 2020 is necessary, desirable and achievable. Scroll down for the links to download
The day after Paris
The 2015 Paris Agreement was a stunning success for multilateralism. However, to deliver the long-term goal of a decarbonised economy, immediate action is needed. If we are to reach net zero emissions by 2050, we must turn the corner by 2020. The hard work begins now. The day after Paris, Mission 2020 was born as a global campaign, to inject urgency and optimism across the economy.
The Goldilocks Era
Our planet has been swinging in and out of ice ages and warm periods over the past million years. It’s only in the last 12,000 years that we entered a unique equilibrium that is not too hot and not too cold. You might call it the Goldilocks era: Perfect for human life.
The Last 100 Years
The last time CO2 levels were this high, global temperatures were 3-4°C warmer. Sea levels were 15-20 meters higher than today. Greenland was ice-free and trees grew at the edge of Antarctica. We have now burned so many fossil fuels and destroyed so many forests that we are pushing Earth out of the Goldilocks era — by about 1°C, and counting.
The 1°C World
Our House Is On Fire
In Financing For Fossil Fuels
Entrenched and vested interests are blocking progress. Since the Paris Agreement the world’s 33 largest banks have provided $1.9 trillion in financing for fossil fuels. As well as being the main contributor to rising CO2, air pollution from burning fossil fuels permanently stunts children’s lungs. It contributes to cancer, dementia, strokes, heart disease, depression and over seven million premature deaths every year.
“We are facing the sixth mass extinction”
All this can feel overwhelming. Speaking to the European Parliament in 2019, Swedish activist Greta Thunberg’s voice cracked as she listed some of the losses we’re already seeing as a result of our inaction on climate change, including the loss of fertile top soils and forests, the rapid extinction of species, the death of about half of the world’s coral reefs.
Protests for our futures
As climate risks escalate and vested interests stand in the way of change, public outrage is rapidly growing. In London, for example, the Extinction Rebellion movement has been engaging in historic civil disobedience, their members – ordinary people from all walks of life – are driven by a deep concern that our own species is at risk of extinction if we do not act as if this is a climate emergency.
Impossible is not a fact
School strikers say we have stolen their futures. They say they don’t want our hope. This outrage and despair is understandable; these are frightening times. But ‘impossible is not a fact, it’s an attitude’. And while we may encounter defeats, we must not let ourselves be defeated. We are being called to use our fiercest optimism to tackle this tremendous challenge.
The fork in the road
It’s time to choose a new path. We must fork away from business-as-usual into business-as-urgent, with every effort focused on ensuring CO2 emissions are dramatically reduced. We can deliver clean air, clean water, abundant renewable energy, improved land use, greener industry, better jobs, more livable cities and safeguarded nature. Our journey to the 2020 climate turning point and onwards leads to a desirable world. But we have no time to dither in our decision.
Big emissions reductions
We’re now emitting roughly 41 gigatons of CO2 per year. By 2020 we have to have put everything into motion so that by 2030 we can halve the number to 20 gigatons, then to 10 gigatons by 2040, and to 5 gigatons by 2050. That is drastic, exponential change. The good news: We have exponential capacity in the market. We can direct all of our ingenuity and technology into doing this.
Change is happening
Norway is divesting over $13 billion from fossil fuels, and putting $20 billion into renewables. The Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp., China’s State Development & Investment Corp. and Japan’s Marubeni are ending finance for coal plants and increasing it for renewables. At least 19 European insurers have divested their coal-related assets.
These are billions, soon to be trillions, of dollars. In concert with that shift comes exponential price declines in renewable technologies. In the US, a record number of coal-fired power plants will be retired in 2019.
We are making progress
But not fast enough
The period from now to the end of 2020 is critical – decisions made today will have impacts for hundreds of years to come. 2020 is when countries must increase their commitments under the Paris Agreement, aiming to reduce their emissions in line with 1.5ºC and net zero emissions by 2050.
Slow and steady
We won’t go far with 30 normal steps, but 30 exponential steps — each one covering twice the distance of the previous — would take us to the moon. It’s time to capitalise on the exponential potential for change in the system.
On renewables, EV’s and batteries one researcher recently said: “Every time we do a new forecast, we have to revise it up for deployment and down for cost.” For example, in the US, Florida Power & Light completed a 10-megawatt grid battery in 2018 hailed as the largest of its kind. This year it announced a battery project 40 times larger.
Four tipping points
We are reaching four tipping points: Citizens are more mobilized than ever. Their influence is helping create political momentum and government recognition of the climate emergency. The real economy is undergoing transformations in the energy and transport sectors. And the fourth industrial revolution is bringing artificial intelligence, machine learning and other innovations that can dramatically improve energy efficiency to bear.
There are strong signs that the 2020s will see the fastest economic transition in history.
To get to where we need to go, we must plug 1.5°C into our GPS, right now. Our blueprints must be fit for a future with 100% clean, affordable and accessible energy. We want good jobs, clean air and societies that work in tune with nature and leave no one behind. The 2020 climate turning point is necessary, desirable and achievable.