Climate Action Tracker: The state of the climate crisis in 2021 | TED | Summary and Q&A

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Climate Action Tracker: The state of the climate crisis in 2021 | TED

TL;DR

The year 2021 is crucial for addressing climate change as governments must make key decisions to update their climate action plans and determine if the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is achievable.

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Questions & Answers

Q: What are the key goals set by the Paris Agreement to limit global warming?

The Paris Agreement aims to keep the global average temperature increase well below 2 degrees Celsius and to strive for a limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius. This requires cutting global greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions by around 2050.

Q: How many national governments have committed to net zero emissions targets?

As of June 1st, 2021, a total of 131 national governments have either adopted net zero emissions targets or are in discussions to do so. This represents approximately 73% of current global greenhouse gas emissions. These include countries such as the European Union, the United States, China, Canada, and several small island nations.

Q: Will the current actions of countries be sufficient to meet the 1.5-degree Celsius warming limit?

No, the currently implemented actions by all countries are not enough to meet the 1.5-degree Celsius target. If these actions continue, it is estimated that global warming would reach 2.9 degrees Celsius by 2100, leading to catastrophic climate change. More ambitious actions are required to stay within the Paris Agreement's temperature goals.

Q: Can the goals of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius be achieved with the current commitments and actions?

It is theoretically possible to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius by 2100 if all the commitments and stated intentions become policies and are followed by actions, including the net zero targets. However, the actual short-term actions and plans are not yet consistent with these long-term intentions, indicating the need for greater effort and commitment.

Q: What is the significance of the 2030 milestone in climate action?

The milestone of 2030 is crucial in climate action as emissions need to be halved by then to put the world on a trajectory towards the 1.5-degree Celsius pathway. Missing this milestone would make it increasingly expensive or even impossible to achieve the necessary emissions reductions later. It is essential for countries to take significant actions by 2030 to stay on track with climate goals.

Q: Are all countries submitting updated commitments and targets in line with the Paris Agreement?

Unfortunately, not all countries are submitting updated commitments or targets that align with the Paris Agreement. Countries like Australia, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, Switzerland, and Vietnam have either resubmitted the same targets as before or offered different targets that do not lead to lower emissions. Brazil's new target would even result in increased emissions. Some countries, like South Korea and New Zealand, have committed to revising their targets, while others still have time before the COP26 Conference to finalize their proposals.

Q: Are there any positive developments in renewable energy and the reduction of fossil fuel investments?

Yes, there have been positive developments in renewable energy and the reduction of fossil fuel investments. Renewable energy has become the new norm for new power production capacity globally due to its cost-effectiveness. Major automakers are transitioning to electric cars, and the financial sector has begun divesting from fossil fuels. Additionally, some countries have announced plans to stop extracting fossil fuels altogether, indicating progress towards cleaner energy sources.

Q: Why is it crucial to take action and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius?

Every year, action, and even a tenth of a degree matter in the fight against climate change. If the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is not achieved, the next target becomes 1.6 degrees Celsius. The impacts of global warming are already being felt and will increase exponentially, so it is crucial to take immediate and bold action to mitigate the effects and ensure a safer future.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • 2021 is a crucial year for climate change as governments must make key decisions on updating their climate action plans according to the Paris Agreement timetable.

  • Good news: Increasingly, governments are pledging to reduce emissions to net zero by the middle of the century, covering 73 percent of current global greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Bad news: Currently implemented actions will do little to reduce emissions and put us on a trajectory for catastrophic climate change. Short-term actions don't match long-term intentions, and some countries need to reconsider their decisions.

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