Every country, city, financial institution and company should adopt plans for net zero -- and act now to get on the right path to that goal, which means cutting global emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 compared with 2010 levels. In advance of next November’s UN Climate Conference in Glasgow, Governments are obligated by the Paris Agreement to be ever more ambitious every five years and submit strengthened commitments known as Nationally Determined Contributions, and these NDCs must show true ambition for carbon neutrality.
Technology is on our side. It costs more to simply run most of today’s coal plants than it does to build new renewable plants from scratch. Economic analysis confirms the wisdom of this path. According to the International Labour Organization, despite inevitable job losses, the clean energy transition will create 18 million net new jobs by 2030. But we must recognize the human costs of decarbonization, and support workers with social protection, re-skilling and up-skilling so that the transition is just.
Second, we need to align global finance with the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals, the world’s blueprint for a better future.
It is time to put a price on carbon; end fossil fuel subsidies and finance; stop building new coal power plants; shift the tax burden from income to carbon, from taxpayers to polluters; make climate-related financial risk disclosures mandatory; and integrate the goal of carbon neutrality into all economic and fiscal decision-making. Banks must align their lending with the net zero objective, and asset owners and managers must decarbonize their portfolios.
Third, we must secure a breakthrough on adaptation and resilience to help those already facing dire impacts of climate change.
That’s not happening enough today: adaptation represents only 20 per cent of climate finance. This hinders our efforts to reduce disaster risk. It also isn’t smart; every $1 invested in adaptation measures could yield almost $4 in benefits. Adaptation and resilience are especially urgent for small island developing states, for which climate change is an existential threat.
As an aside, it's worth dispelling the old-fashioned idea about stopping climate change necessitating ascetic lifestyles. Everybody's been stuck at home during the pandemic, doing basically nothing, and it's made no difference: emissions are at a record high. We need to address the carbon-intensity of the system that keeps us alive and well, not get rid of it.