The year 2020 could be a huge turning point for our planet. According to a new report, if we don’t limit carbon emissions by that date, we won’t meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement. That leaves just three years – but six leaders and scientists laid out a six-point plan for meeting the most pressing deadline in human history – regardless of who’s in the White House.
Christiana Figueres, convener of Mission 2020 and Executive Secretary for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change between 2010 and 2016, led the group who wrote a piece for Nature outlining their vision for how we can lower emissions and meet the Paris goals. They targeted six sectors: energy, finance, land, infrastructure, transport, and industry. They said their goals may be “idealistic at best, unrealistic at worst” but they feel setting high goals will inspire people to innovate to meet them.
For example, the authors said at least 30 percent of global power supply needs to be sourced from renewable energy. It’s not impossible, considering we obtained 23.7 percent of electricity from renewables in 2015. They highlight low carbon practices for the other sectors too, like reducing deforestation and increasing use of clean vehicles.
The authors also laid out three steps to avoid delaying. First, base policies and action plans on science. Second, scale up existing solutions quickly. And third, be optimistic. “There will always be those who hide their heads in the sand and ignore the global risks of climate change,” said the authors. “But there are many more of us committed to overcoming this inertia. Let us stay optimistic and act boldly together.”