As part of the ‘Mission 2020’ campaign, Christiana Figueres is working to advance climate action and safeguard the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Figueres is the former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The new ‘Mission 2020’ campaign advocates progress in a
few key areas by the end of the decade. The goal is to keep us on track
in the race to tackle climate change within the rapidly closing window of opportunity.
On April 10th, 2017, Figueres led a group of climate and business experts who said the year 2020 is a game-changing opportunity to turn the tide on the devastating impacts of carbon emissions.
The campaign draws on the findings of a new report titled, “2020: The Climate Turning Point“. This report was created in a collaboration between Yale University, Carbon Tracker, Climate Action Tracker and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Research. The report explains why 2020 is significant and explores how goals can realistically be achieved. The report states that in the next three years, businesses, investors and policy makers need to take bold, but achievable steps.
The new report cites 2020 as a critical milestone for stemming the effects of climate change. To stay on track we will need to reach peak emissions by 2020 and total decarbonisation by 2050.
As explained by Figueres the campaign is a call for a collective focus to “bend the curve” of emissions in the next few years so that we will have enough time to continue with this transition between the years 2020 and 2050. Here is a quick summary of what we need to see in energy, transportation, land use, finance, governments, and business.
The report shows how renewable energy is beating fossil fuels as new sources of electricity around the world. The goal is to have 30 percent of global energy being produced by renewables by 2020. This is entirely possible as we are almost there with current global renewable energy production hovering around 20 percent.
This sector requires more work as we are far from where we need to be. We need to see around 20 – 25 percent of new vehicles and we are currently around 1 or 2 percent. We must see emissions reduction in all transport sectors (land, maritime and aviation). Even the high emissions aviation sector is moving in the direction of electrification. According to Siemens we will see fully electric aviation in a decade with planes capable of traveling at least 1000 kms. The report says that we need to see zero emission transport as the preferred form of all new mobility in the world’s major cities and transport routes.
Land is currently much more of a source of emissions rather than a sink. We must reverse this trend so that land can be a sink rather than a source of emissions. The report says that large-scale deforestation must be replaced by large-scale land restoration and agriculture shifts to earth friendly practices.
We need to see a trillion dollars invested in clean technologies each year. We are still a long way away from this goal so these investments will need to be ramped up. According to Figueres what directs the flow of investment is cost and we have seen tremendous cost declines in renewable energy. The report says that all financial institutions must have a disclosed transition strategy.
Decarbonizing the economy makes fundamental economic sense. Ideally Government provides incentives and policies and the private sector uses these incentives to make the transformation and investments needed. Countries collaboration between governments and the private sector will decarbonize more quickly. There are other countries where these policies are not forthcoming. However, even in these countries the private sector is moving forward because it is good for their bottom line.
The report indicates that cities and states must have established plans and are implementing policies and regulations with the aim to fully decarbonise infrastructure by 2050.
In the following video ELN Chief Reporter Priyanka Shrestha speaks to Figueres the person who ushered in the Paris Agreement. Figueres talks about the actions that need to be taken in the next three years so major milestones are reached by 2020.
All sectors of the economy have a role to play to achieve the 2020 goals. Figueres points to the fact that we keep seeing growth in the low carbon economy in the US and around the world. Although she says that she does not expect much from business. She reiterates that the private sector continues to move forward because it is good for their bottom line, and she adds, “they are not doing this to save the planet”. Investments in clean technologies are safer and less risky, therefore such investment are good business and as such they will keep growing. The report states that industry, including heavy industry (iron & steel, cement, chemicals, and oil & gas) all need to commit to being Paris compliant.
In the following video Figueres is interviewed by Nick Breeze and she says despite substantial headwinds the goals of Mission 2020 are not impossible. Despite an unstable situation in Europe post Brexit and the election of Trump in the US, Figueres is hopeful. She explains that emissions have flattened for the third year in a row while GDPs keep growing. This decoupling of growth and emissions continues and the goal of Mission 2020 is to accelerate this process.