In 2015 we are beginning to see an end to rising greenhouse gas emissions and we are advancing the agenda that will see their rapid decline. To reduce their emissions governments and businesses are ramping up renewables and engaging energy efficiency. The massive deployment and cost effectiveness of renewable energy is lending credence to the hope that we will succeed in dramatically reducing our GHG emissions.
In 2013 Al Gore correctly summarized where we are and he further anticipated the near term future:
“Don’t get me wrong. We’ve got a long way to go. We’re still increasing emissions. But we’re approaching this tipping point. Businesses are driving it. Grass roots are driving it. Policies and changes in law in places like india and China and Mexico and California and Ireland will proliferate and increase, and soon we’ll get to the point where national laws will evolve into global cooperation.”
As part of COP21 governments are committing to substantial emissions reductions through their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). While we need to go further, it is an important step in the right direction.
The US has signed a number of deals with foreign governments to help reign-in carbon including a substantial agreement with China. As evidenced by a number of initiatives, China, the world’s largest carbon emitter is getting increasingly serious about reducing its emissions. China agreed that its emissions will peak around 2030 and the country has indicated that it will derive one-fifth of its power from non-fossil-fuel energy sources.
The US, the world’s second largest carbon emitter has established emissions reduction targets of 26-28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. The Clean Power Plan will cut carbon emissions by 32 percent by 2030 and the U.S. and the EPA has proposed another rule to cut methane from newly built facilities in the oil and gas industry. This new rule is important as methane accounts for a quarter of Earth’s current warming.
Governments are not the only ones that are reducing their emissions. They also being joined by a number of leading corporations that have pledged to reduce their emissions ahead of COP21. As evidenced by support for the White House’s climate initiative called the American Business Act on Climate Pledge, the business community is increasingly supporting action to cut fossil fuel pollution and increase their use of renewable energy.