GFAR blog

6 Signs of Progress Since the Adoption of the Paris Agreement

Since the adoption of the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change in 2015, global momentum to tackle the climate crisis has been building. Progress has been made on almost every front, from bold corporate emissions-reduction targets and investors shifting away from coal to a surge of support for net-zero targets and a rising movement of youth activists from Uganda to India, culminating in Greta Thunberg being recognized as Time Magazine’s 2019 “Person of the Year.”

At the same time, the progress on climate action has not been anywhere near fast enough.

The climate movement faced plenty of troubling headwinds over this period. President Donald Trump officially withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement in November 2020 — the only country to do so — although President-elect Joe Biden has promised to rejoin on his first day in office in January 2021.

While the coronavirus pandemic led to a historic drop in global emissions this year, this drop will be a blip in the ongoing trend of ever-climbing GHG emissions unless backed up by changes in policy and business practices. Last year was the second-hottest on record globally, and 2020 is on track to be the warmest year ever.

From wildfires in Australia and the western United States to this year’s record-breaking hurricane season, communities around the world continue to face devastating extreme weather events, many exacerbated by the climate crisis. A lot of work lies ahead of us.

The coronavirus pandemic, while first and foremost a health, employment and economic crisis, will also impact efforts to advance climate action. On the one hand, most leaders are not focused on climate action these days, and the COP26 climate summit originally scheduled for November 2020 in Glasgow was postponed until next year. On the other hand, this health crisis shows that countries can respond rapidly to a global emergency.

Here are six ways the world has shown it’s ready for more ambitious climate action since the Paris Agreement was adopted in 2015:

1. Over 1,000 Big Companies Pledged Major Emissions Reductions

Private sector leaders increasingly recognize that transitioning our high-carbon economy to one built on low-carbon activities is not only essential to limit dangerous climate change impacts; it’s also good for companies’ bottom lines.

Under the Science Based Targets initiative, over 1,000 companies have committed to set emissions reduction targets based on the science, and more than 340 have committed to set net-zero targets across their operations and value chains. The net-zero targets align with limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F).

Collectively, these high-ambition companies — including many globally recognized brands, from Chanel to Nestlé — represent $3.6 trillion and have an annual carbon footprint larger than the annual emissions of France.

Companies’ approaches to cutting their emissions vary. For example, 270 are committed to transitioning to 100% renewable energy. This includes Nike, which already powers all its North American facilities through renewables. The Consumer Goods Forum recently launched an initiative leading major brands, retailers and manufacturers in an effort to eliminate deforestation and forest degradation from supply chains of commodities including soy, palm oil and paper. Ninety-two companies — including Air New Zealand, Baidu and HP — have joined EV100, a worldwide initiative seeking to accelerate the transition to electric vehicles by 2030. And IKEA and H&M — companies known globally for the affordability of their products — are exploring ways they could profit from repairing and reselling products in a circular economy.

Many of these companies are leaders within their sectors and are setting a new standard for what corporate climate action should look like. Microsoft, one of the world’s largest companies, will shrink its carbon footprint and invest in carbon removal solutions to become carbon negative by 2030.

Read the other 5 signs on the full article here

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