Joe Biden wants to reduce US emissions. to the half from their 2005 levels. However, given that emissions have been declining slowly since then, this amounts to only a 37% drop from 2020 levels.
That, in a nutshell, is the problem. Our leaders adhere to a template that does not respond to the urgency of the moment. The United States is no longer even the world’s largest emitter, and China, the biggest polluter, is looking to build more coal power plants, without reaching carbon neutrality until 2060. Unfortunately, that is a perfect illustration of how disconnected we are from the gravity of the situation.
We are in a climate emergency, but we still have time to limit the pain. Policy choices, corporate actions, and the overall responses of the global community over the next 10 years will determine whether we sink or swim as carbon emissions drive sea level rise and extreme weather events. But as long as we continue to use the Paris Agreement as a benchmark for success, we will not make enough progress in time.
Paris was supposed to be a starting point, not the end goal. It was an unprecedented effort to unite the countries of the world, recognize an obvious and neglected problem, and set preliminary goals for substantive action. But he lacked teeth and ambition. The agreements call for limiting warming to 1.5–2.0 ° C, but major climate disasters are already taking place with warming of ~ 1 ° C.
Over the past five years, most countries have failed to make progress in meeting their individual commitments to the agreement. The United States withdrew from the issue, China increased its pollution and only Morocco and the Gambia have been identified as if it is on track to limit warming to 1.5 ° C. Meanwhile, we have witnessed the hottest five years on record, unprecedented storms, devastating wildfires, uncontrolled deforestation and approximately 167 billion tons of carbon that they are pumped into our atmosphere.
Given all this, unsurprisingly, there is a growing body of evidence which shows that 2050 is an inappropriate target to achieve net zero emissions. Also, we don’t fully understand climate feedback loops and potential tipping points that could be disastrous. The climate crisis is accelerating much faster than most scientists anticipated, and if we do not immediately enact general and socially just changes in our policies, economies, food consumption habits, and relationship with nature, we will fail.
There is a lack of recognition around the sacrifices we have to make to survive. Spending money on infrastructure and betting on future technologies to save ourselves is not enough. Must reduce excessive consumption by the rich who have been the main beneficiaries of fossil fuel consumption. The US government urgently needs to declare a climate emergency and immediately begin phasing out a national carbon fee for polluters to pay. This list goes on.
Biden’s message on climate feels ambitious, highlighting the job opportunities and promise behind realigning our society, and he’s not wrong. There are many opportunities on the horizon for those bold and quick enough to seize them. But fixing our economy and providing incentives for green energy is only one piece of the puzzle.
What happens farming? What about overconsumption and exploding population growth? What about the massive destruction of our natural resources? Saving the world from a climate catastrophe won’t be quick or fun. It will require courage and tenacity, resourcefulness and commitment.
Comprehensive and holistic measures are the only way out of this. This is how any massive and complicated systemic problem is solved.
Finding the solution to this problem is the focus of the Global Scientists Warning About a Climate Emergency report that I co-authored last year. Here, we have more than 14,000 scientists from 156 countries backing the six steps necessary to survive the climate crisis. Those steps revolve around energy (pricing carbon and rapidly phasing out fossil fuels), reducing short-lived pollutants (methane, black carbon, hydrofluorocarbons, etc.), restoring and protecting natural ecosystems (forests, mangroves , wetlands, etc.), change the world. diet to more plant-based foods (consuming fewer animal products), transitioning to a carbon-free economy using green economics and reducing unsustainable population growth (~ 200,000 per day) that will likely bring the world total to more than 8 billion by 2023.
This will not be easy. It will be the largest company in the history of mankind. And that’s what it takes to survive and continue to thrive.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism