Research from climate think tanks suggests that “immediate, transformational changes” across every sector are needed by 2030.
Efforts to limit global warming to 1.5°C are far behind the “pace and scale” required, with experts calling for policymakers to close the global gap in climate action at COP28 later this month.
The ‘State of Climate Action 2023’ report offers a roadmap to accelerate necessary changes across all sectors and inform governments’ policy response to the Global Stocktake at COP28 in Dubai.
“Despite decades of dire warnings and wake-up calls, our leaders have largely failed to mobilise climate action anywhere near the pace and scale needed,” said Sophie Boehm, Research Associate II, World Resources Institute (WRI) and lead author of the report.
“Such delays leave us with very few routes to secure a liveable future for all. There’s no time left to tinker at the edges. Instead, we need immediate, transformational changes across every single sector this decade.”
Published by Systems Change Lab, the report is a joint effort between the Bezos Earth Fund, Climate Action Tracker (a project of Climate Analytics and New Climate Institute), ClimateWorks Foundation, the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions and World Resources Institute (WRI).
It has been published in parallel with a new report by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) which acknowledges national climate action plans remain insufficient to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C and is accompanied by calls for countries to “make bold strides forward” at COP28 in Dubai.
The Systems Change Lab report translates the Paris Agreement’s temperature limit into 1.5°C-aligned targets for 2030 and 2050 to avoid intensifying climate impacts, while also minimising harm to biodiversity and food security.
These targets span sectors that account for roughly 85% of global GHG emissions – including power, buildings, industry, transport, forests and land, and food and agriculture – and also focus on the scale-up of carbon removal technologies and climate finance.
“In a year where climate change has been wreaking havoc across the world, it’s clear global efforts to curb emissions are falling short,” said Louise Jeffery of NewClimate Institute and one of the report’s lead authors.
“Continued incremental change is not an option; 1.5°C is still achievable but we urgently need a step change in climate action.”
In October, the UNFCCC published a new synthesis report to support governments in their decision-making process for the Global Stocktake.
Kelly Levin, Chief of Science, Data and Systems Change at the Bezos Earth Fund, said governments must “heed warnings” and agree on a way forward at COP28 to course-correct climate inaction.
The UNFCCC synthesis report recognises the need for systems transformation in a way that the Paris Agreement has “never articulated before”, according to Levin. This synthesis report follows the release of a technical report on the global stocktake in September, which outlined actionable climate solutions ready for implementation.
“Based on the stocktake’s technical findings, emissions need a complete u-turn, falling by 43% by 2030, and 60% by 2035 compared to 2019 levels, ultimately reaching net zero by 2050,” said Levin.
In addition to the global stocktake, the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Emissions Gap Report will soon be updated, illustrating the gulf between current commitments and the levels needed to avoid the worst climate impacts.
According to Levin, the State of Climate Action report “picks up where the global stocktake left off”, offering a roadmap for system transformation across key sectors, translated into “concrete, actionable targets” against which progress can be measured.
Across the 42 indicators assessed in the report, only one – the share of electric vehicles in passenger car sales – is on track to reach its 2030 target.
Of the other indicators: six are ‘off track’, moving in the right direction at a promising but insufficient speed; 24 indicators are ‘well off track’, heading in the right direction but well below the required pace; six indicators are headed in the wrong direction entirely, such that a u-turn in action is required; and five indicators have insufficient data to track progress.
“It is only becoming more clear and more urgent to course-correct on climate,” said Ani Dasgupta, President & CEO at the WRI, adding that “we already know what needs to be done, sector by sector, by 2030”.
“It’s going to take drastic action from all of us – governments, corporations, cities – to embrace the systemic change needed to create a liveable and thriving future for people, nature and climate.”
Achieving rapid transformations across all sectors to achieve global climate goals will require a “tremendous acceleration” in climate action this decade, the report noted.
The analysis found that the world must increase growth in solar and wind power; phase out coal in electricity generation seven times faster than current rates; expand the coverage of rapid transit infrastructure six times faster; reduce the annual rate of deforestation four times faster over this decade; and shift to healthier, more sustainable diets eight times faster.
“We’re seeing electric vehicles take off faster than we thought possible just a few years ago, in turn creating vast benefits for public health, the economy and the climate,” said Helen Mountford, President and CEO at ClimateWorks Foundation.
“If we can replicate this progress in other areas, it shows that transformative change is possible if pursued in a concerted, emergency effort, moving them over positive tipping points.”