The historic new report from the IPCC makes it abundantly clear that the time for half measures and empty promises is over. There is a staggering gulf between the pledges of the world’s government, business, and banking leaders and the actions needed to fulfill the goals of the Paris Agreement.
As the IPCC outlined, the stunningly rapid cost reductions in clean energy and sustainable technologies available to us today have put all of the solutions we need to reach net zero by 2050 within reach. Moreover, every technology we need to cut global warming pollution in half by 2030 is already fully mature, cost-competitive (actually cheaper in many cases) and available today, along with proven deployment strategies.
But in spite of the incredible progress we have made, the crisis is still getting worse faster than we are implementing the solutions. One reason is that fossil fuel companies and their backers have spent lavishly for decades to capture the policy-making process in key countries and to cynically lie to the public about the climate crisis, even though they know full well that their public persuasion campaigns were based on absolute falsehoods.
And now, with Russia’s war against Ukraine – which, as many have said, is a fossil fuel-funded war – some world leaders are falling back into the patterns of the past, just as our ability to limit warming to 1.5°C is beginning to slip from our grasp.
This moment in time should be – and can be – an epiphany for our global civilization. It is not a time for moral cowardice and reckless indifference to the future of humanity. The currently proposed expansion of fossil fuel development in the United States and around the globe is incompatible with a safe and sustainable future that limits global temperature rise to 1.5°C. Likewise, the failure of developed nations and financial institutions to provide the support needed to deploy climate solutions equitably risks making the global transition needed fundamentally unjust.
We know what path we need to take. We can wait no longer to make the hard choices that are necessary to protect the future of human civilization.