The emission reduction targets or nationally determined contributions (NDCs) global governments agreed to under the Paris Accord are “woefully inadequate,” according to the UN. It says governments need to commit to targets that are at least three times as ambitious to limit the global temperature increase to 2-degrees Celsius.
If there’s any silver lining to the report, it’s that the UN says the 2-degree target is still attainable if governments around the world commit to a “green recovery” coming out of the pandemic. Policy initiatives like the Green New Deal could reduce predicted emissions in 2030 by as much as 25 percent. By investing in zero-emission technologies, cutting back on fossil fuel subsidies, building no new coal plants and launching ambitious reforestation projects, there’s even the possibility we could course-correct toward the 1.5-degree target, provided governments move fast enough.
Individuals, particularly those who live in the developed world, will also need to do their part. Emissions generated by the wealthiest one percent — those who earn more than $109,000 per year — of the world’s population accounts for more than twice the combined share of 50 percent of the planet’s poorest. Here, again, the right policy could mean the difference, with the UN suggesting governments should invest in incentives and programs that encourage people to cycle, travel by rail instead of plane where feasible and make their homes more energy-efficient.
“Everybody — from governments to businesses to individual consumers — needs to work together to resolve a growing crisis that will dwarf the impacts of COVID-19 in both scale and longevity.”