This week marks the 5th anniversary of that momentous day when 195 countries unanimously adopted the Paris Agreement. After years of work by hundreds of dedicated UN staff, thousands of civil society members, business leaders, regional and national governments, scientists, activists, the world came together to tackle Climate Change. The agreement directs each of the 195 country signatories and the European Union to develop their own emission reduction targets and the strategies by which they endeavour to achieve them. It is the first truly global commitment to fight the climate crisis.
It is a historical milestone down our continued path of determining what type of society we wanted to build, and most importantly want to leave to future generations.
But Paris was not the destination, it was just a new dawn, amongst many others. ‘We’ are still a long way away from delivering the promise of the Paris Agreement. The task, fundamentally changing our relationship with the natural world and steering our planet-altering economies towards a new path.
2020 has brought up some game-changing developments. One of them is the US returning to the Paris Agreement. Biden has set out domestic and international actions to accelerate decarbonization efforts. Game-changing commitments for emissions reduction targets have been recently announced by the EU and China, who, among others, have committed to peak carbon emissions by 2030 and reach net-zero emissions before 2050 (and 2060 in China’s case).
But the pandemic this year has created an exhaustion unseen in living memory. But the fires, floods and lockdowns we’ve experienced this year also give us renewed purpose as to what this is all for. We will see a 7% reduction in emissions this year, but unlike the 2008 financial crisis, which subsequently led to an increase in emissions, we cannot return to business as usual afterwards.
But I don’t think we will see business as usual — at a grassroots level and at the very top of the political ladder we have seen an irreversible change. More and more investors, corporations and governments are insisting on a path to net-zero.
Chile, France, Italy and the UK are hosting a Climate Ambition Summit on 12 December, the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement, which will provide a platform for governments to unveil ambitious long-term strategies and targets.
There is the potential for similar momentum from the private sector. The Net-Zero Asset Owners Alliance, the Science-Based Targets initiative and the Race to Zero, among others, are helping to lay the foundations for successful climate action in 2021 and beyond.
We can, and must, go further still. We need to demand more and deeper emissions cuts from governments around the world. We need companies to make radical emissions cuts, we need investors to follow through on commitments to portfolio-wide net-zero goals.
We need to hold governments and corporations accountable. Every one of us can do that with our agency (choices), advocacy (support) and activism (political votes and civic voice).
In this series of articles, we will be reflecting on what the current state of play is 5 years after the monumental Paris Climate Accord, and what is still left to be done with under a year to go until COP 26 in Glasgow in November 2021. Please click here to see the next article examining what recent political action in the US means for us.
Originally published at https://www.attis.earth on December 12, 2020.