World needs to be carbon neutral by 2050

2020-12-15 22:25:29

United Nations SecretaryGeneral Antonio Guterres. [PhotoAgencies] As the world marks the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change a promising movement for carbon neutrality is taking shape. By next month countries representing more than 65 percent of harmful greenhouse gasses and more than 70 percent of the world economy will have committed to achieve netzero emissions by the middle of the century.At the same time the main climate indicators are worsening. While the COVID19 pandemic has temporarily reduced emissions carbon dioxide levels are still at record highs — and rising. The past decade was the hottest on record Arctic sea ice in October was the lowest ever and apocalyptic fires floods droughts and storms are increasingly the new normal. Biodiversity is collapsing deserts are spreading oceans are warming and choking with plastic waste. Science tells us that unless we cut fossil fuel production by 6 percent every year between now and 2030 things will get worse. Instead the world is on track for a 2 percent annual rise.Pandemic recovery gives us an unexpected yet vital opportunity to attack climate change fix our global environment reengineer economies and reimagine our future. Here is what we must do:First we need to build a truly global coalition for carbon neutrality by 2050.The European Union has committed to do so. The United Kingdom Japan the Republic of Korea and more than 110 countries have done the same. So too has the incoming United States administration. China has pledged to get there before 2060.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 percent by 2030 compared with 2010 levels. In advance of next Novembers 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 todays 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 reskilling and upskilling so that the transition is just.Second we need to align global finance with the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals the worlds 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 climaterelated financial risk disclosures mandatory and integrate the goal of carbon neutrality into all economic and fiscal decisionmaking. Banks must align their lending with the netzero 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.Thats not happening enough today: adaptation represents only 20 percent of climate finance. This hinders our efforts to reduce disaster risk. It also isnt 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.Next year gives us a wealth of opportunities to address our planetary emergencies through major United Nations conferences and other efforts on biodiversity oceans transport energy cities and food systems. One of our best allies is nature itself: naturebased solutions could provide onethird of the net reductions in greenhouse gas emissions required to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. Indigenous knowledge can help to point the way. And as humankind devises strategies for preserving the environment and building a green economy we need more women decisionmakers at the table.COVID19 and climate have brought us to a threshold. We cannot go back to the old normal of inequality and fragility instead we must step toward a safer more sustainable path. This is a complex policy test and an urgent moral test. With decisions today setting our course for decades to come we must make pandemic recovery and climate action two sides of the same coin.The author is UN secretarygeneral.The views dont necessarily reflect those of China Daily.