THE PATHWAY FORWARD

We can no longer wait for others to take the first step. It’s up to us and our governments to make ambitious climate commitments, so that others may follow in our footsteps.

 

We can no longer wait for others to take the first step. It is up to us and to our governments—national, state, and city—to make our commitments known so that others may follow in our footsteps, increasing ambition to solve the climate crisis. Right now, it is estimated by Ecofys (PDF) that there is a very large gap between what world governments are pledging, and what the science tells us we need to reduce – 12 GT (or 12 billion tons) of CO2e emissions per year. Below is a list of key strategies to reduce climate pollution at scale before 2020, closing the gap between what is needed to secure a safe future and the inadequate targets currently proposed:

 

1. BOOST SOLAR PV ENERGY PRODUCTION

A coalition of government leaders and regional energy providers could remove barriers to solar by improving access to the power grid for solar projects and formalizing net metering rules, so that individual homeowners and businesses would be allowed to sell the energy they produce directly to the grid, paving the way for another 1,600 GW by 2020.

Impact: up to 1.4 Gt CO2e per year

 

2. BOOST WIND ENERGY PRODUCTION

The Global Wind Energy Council could foster the global introduction of arrangements that lead to risk reduction for investments in wind energy (e.g. secured grid access). This could lead to an installation of over 1,000 GW by 2020, more than double projected growth in the wind sector.

Impact: up to 1.2 Gt CO2e per year

 

3. PROVIDE ACCESS TO CLEAN ENERGY

An estimated 1.4 billion people currently lack access to electricity. The UN’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative could work to provide communities that currently lack access benefit from low-emission options such as locally generated solar and wind power.

Impact: up to 0.4 Gt CO2e per year

 

4. PROVIDE EFFICIENT & HEALTHY COOK STOVES

Much of the world still relies on wood and charcoal for cooking, which has both serious health and climate impacts. The UN Development Programme could take the lead in scaling-up many existing programs to eventually replace half of the world’s polluting cook-stoves with clean alternatives (e.g. biogas reactors) reducing the global warming impact of these emission sources.

Impact: equivalent to 0.6 Gt CO2e

 

​5. ELIMINATE GOVERNMENT FOSSIL FUEL SUBSIDIES

Despite the fact that coal, oil and gas companies continue to enjoy record-breaking profits, governments still provide financial subsidies to underwrite their expenses using taxpayer funds. The International Energy Agency could work with countries to dismantle these outdated incentive programs and phase-out half of all fossil-fuel subsidies thereby creating a level playing field for clean energy companies.

Impact: up to 0.9 Gt CO2e per year

 

6. OPTIMIZE AVIATION & MARITIME SHIPPING VEHICLES

Leading aircraft and ship manufacturers, supported by organizations like Carbon War Room, could agree to design their vehicles to use new fuel-saving standards that could result in one half of technically feasible mitigation potential by 2020.

Impact: up to 0.2 Gt CO2e per year

 

7. PHASE-OUT FLUORINATED GAS POLLUTION

Benefitting from the momentum of a landmark agreement between the U.S. & Chinese governments, Industry associations such as Refrigerants, Naturally! could work towards meeting half of the technical mitigation potential by 2020.

Impact: up to 0.3 Gt CO2e per year

 

8. REDUCE GLOBAL DEFORESTATION

Deforestation accounts for more than 10% of the world’s climate pollution, permanently altering the livelihoods of indigenous people, destroying vitally important ecosystems, and creating serious imbalances in the global climate system. Led by individuals with convening power, for example the United Kingdom’s Prince of Wales, deforestation reduction approaches could be rolled out to all the major countries with high deforestation emissions, halving global deforestation by 2020.

Impact: up to 1.8 Gt CO2e per year

 

9. INCENTIVIZE AGRICULTURAL INNOVATION

The International Federation of Agricultural Producers could help to realize 30% of the technical mitigation potential of innovative agricultural techniques and organic farming practices that build soil quality while increasing food security and improving the soil’s ability to store carbon.

Impact: up to 0.8 Gt CO2e per year

 

10. REDUCE SHORT-LIVED AIR POLLUTANTS

The UNEP’s Climate and Clean Air Coalition To Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants (PDF) already has significant political momentum and could result in half of the technical mitigation potential, reducing the radiative forcing impact equivalent to a large-scale emission reduction of greenhouse gases.

Impact: up to 1 Gt CO2e per year

 

11. LEARN HOW REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE AND SOIL CAN SEQUESTER CARBON

Current studies on the impact of restoring soil health are enormously promising. The impact of sustainable agriculture and land management as critical tools for sequestering carbon are critical to study and understand. For more information:  The Carbon Underground

 

Companies and NGO’s can also play a large role in driving global reductions in CO2 emissions:

 

1. LEAD ON VOLUNTARY ENERGY REDUCTIONS

In association with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, 30% of the world’s Top 1000 companies could reduce energy-related emissions 10% below business as usual by 2020, with all companies agreeing to reduce their non-CO2 emissions by 50%.

Impact: up to 0.7 Gt CO2e per year

 

2. REDUCE SUPPLY CHAIN EMISSIONS

An organization such as the Consumer Goods Forum could stimulate 30% of companies to require their supply chains to reduce emissions 10% below business as usual by 2020.

Impact: up to 0.2 Gt CO2e per year

 

3. REDUCE CARBON INTENSITY OF INVESTMENT ASSETS

More than 200 financial organisations are already members of the finance initiative of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP-FI). UNEP-FI could lead the 20 largest banks to reduce the carbon footprint of 10% of their assets by 80% by 2020.

Impact: up to 0.4 Gt CO2e per year

 

4. DONATE TO LOW-CARBON & CONSERVATION INITIATIVES

NGOs could lead an effort to motivate 10% of the 20% of wealthiest individuals to voluntarily contribute to projects (at a cost of approximately US $200 per year) which directly result in decreased pollution via new low-carbon sustainable development projects or conservation efforts to increase the health and resilience of natural carbon sinks (effectively “offsetting” a portion of their carbon footprints).

Impact: up to 1.6 Gt CO2e per year

 

5. PROMOTE GREEN CITIES INITIATIVES

Groups such as the C40 or ICLEI, a network of local governments for sustainability, could lead the 40 cities in C40 or an equivalent sample of municipalities in reduce emissions city emissions to 20% below business as usual by 2020, through projects such as improved rapid transport, parks, low-carbon infrastructure, energy efficiency programs, and streamlined green building standards.

Impact: up to 0.7 Gt CO2e per year

 

6. ESTABLISH SUBNATIONAL EMISSIONS TARGETS

Following the example set by states such as California, ambitious US states and Canadian provinces could accept an emission-reduction target of 15–20% below business as usual by 2020.

Impact: up to 0.6 Gt CO2e per year

 

7. INCREASE HEATING & COOLING EFFICIENCY

The UNEP Sustainable Building & Climate Initiative (PDF) could work to bring together the relevant players to realise 30% of the full reduction potential by 2020 for buildings (new constructions & existing retrofits) deploying new energy efficient heating and cooling technologies.

Impact: up to 0.6 Gt CO2e per year

 

8. BAN INCANDESCENT LAMPS

The en.lighten initiative of UNEP and the Global Environment Facility already has a target to globally ban incandescent lamps by 2016. With efficient, high quality alternatives like CFL and LED bulbs now available and low price points, this can facilitate a rapid reduction of emissions in the lighting sector.

Impact: up to 0.2 Gt CO2e per year

 

9. TRANSITION TO EFFICIENT APPLIANCES

Through CLASP standards or the Super-efficient Equipment and Appliance Deployment Initiativewe could drive use of the most energy-efficient appliances on the market for both commercial and residential consumers.

Impact: up to 0.6 Gt CO2e per year

 

10. TRANSITION TO LOW-EMISSION VEHICLES

A coalition of manufacturers and NGOs joined by the UNEP Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles could agree to a new fleetwide efficiency average that would save an additional 1 litre/100 km (or 3 MPG) globally by 2020 for cars, and an equivalent reductions for trucks.

Impact: up to 0.7 Gt CO2e per year

 

11. TRANSITION TO REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE

Current studies on the impact of restoring soil health are enormously promising. The impact of sustainable agriculture and land management as critical tools for sequestering carbon are critical to study and understand. For more information:  The Carbon Underground

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