Action on six key climate issues will keep Paris Agreement alive, says new report

The actions nations and companies could take during over the next decade to limit global warming to 1.5°C have been set out by the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC).

Its latest report, Keeping 1.5°C Alive: Closing the Gap in the 2020s, says current national decarbonisation pledges made as part of the Paris climate accord fall far short of those needed to prevent global warming from exceeding 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. But it says there are six key, and feasible, actions that could close that gap should they be catalysed by agreements made at the COP26 climate summit in November.

The recommendations cover six areas: cutting methane emissions, ending deforestation and other nature-based solutions, moving faster beyond coal, accelerating road transport electrification, decarbonising key industrial and other “harder to abate” sectors, and achieving improvements in energy efficiency.

Many of the actions entail minimal cost and would spur further innovation and support green economic development; and all of them could be given impetus at COP26 via commitments from leading countries and companies, without the need for comprehensive international agreement.

However, two high priority actions – ending deforestation and reducing emissions from existing coal plants – will need to be supported by climate finance flows from rich developed countries.

“Current national commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are a useful step forward but far from sufficient to limit global warming to an acceptable level,” commented Adair Turner, Chair of the Energy Transitions Commission. “But we have the technologies to achieve far faster reductions, often at nil or low cost, and this report shows how. And much of what needs to be done does not require comprehensive international agreements, but can be driven forward by coalitions of leading countries and companies. COP26 must be the catalyst to seizing this opportunity.”

To keep the goal of limiting to global warming alive, COP26 President-Designate, Alok Sharma said action must be taken now to halve emissions, saying: “This report sets out a clear and credible action plan of achievable emissions to get us on a 1.5 degree pathway. Ahead of COP26, we urge all countries to submit enhanced plans to reduce emissions and take action on coal, cars, trees and methane.”

Nigel Topping, UK High Level Climate Action Champion, COP26, said: “The ETC highlights the critical actions for nations and companies to Keep 1.5°C. Alive. Rallying leadership and global support is at the heart of the Race to Zero and the ETC’s recommendations demonstrate that it is technically and economically feasible to achieve collective action in the next decade. Momentum is building and it is now crucial that we focus on rapid deployment in the 2020s, if we are to limit global warming to 1.5°C.”