Across 40 different areas spanning the power sector, heavy industry, agriculture, transportation, finance and technology, not one is changing quickly enough to avoid 1.5C in global heating with all failing to make the “transformational change” needed to avert the most disastrous consequences of the climate crisis, with trends either too slow or in some cases even regressing, according to a new Systems Change Lab report.
The sluggish pace of decarbonization further highlights how the world is badly off track in its attempts to curb climate breakdown. From renewable electricity generation to meat consumption to public financing for fossil fuels, the report found that no indicator was showing the required progress to cut emissions in half this decade before eliminating greenhouse gases completely by 2050, which would give the world a chance to keep below 1.5C.
Three areas in particular – cement production, steel making and efforts to place a fee on carbon emissions – are stagnating, the report found. A further three – emissions from agriculture, the share of trips made by cars and the deforestation rate – are moving in the wrong direction.
“We need complete u-turns from these areas,” said Kelly Levin, chief of science at the Bezos Earth Fund, one of the report’s co-authors. “With climate change you can’t just head in the right direction, you need to do it at pace. Without that, we will reach disastrous tipping points.”
Coal needs to be phased out five times faster than it is now, according to the analysis, while the pace of reforestation needs to be three times faster. Coastal wetlands need to be restored nearly three times faster, climate finance needs to grow 13 times faster and the energy intensity of buildings needs to drop at a rate almost three times faster than now. In wealthy countries across Europe and North America, the consumption of beef needs to reduce 1.5 times faster than it is now.
“We need to pull out the stops in every sector, to transform our power generation, the diets we have, how we manage land and more, all simultaneously,” said Kelly Levin. “We need transformational change and it’s very clear the trends aren’t moving fast enough.”
"...we are moving too slowly to avoid 1.5C,” said Sophie Boehm, a climate researcher at World Resources Institute and report co-author. “If that continues, we will fall woefully short of the goals to avoid disastrous climate change. It’s very worrying we are not on track for any of these target areas.”