The main focus here in Geneva is on shaping the Paris agreement for the post-2020 period. Nevertheless, it is critical that we do not lose sight of the need to increase our climate actions from now up to 2020 as well.
Even if a global climate agreement is reached in Paris this December, most of the proposals and targets for cutting emissions won’t kick in until after 2020. But the coming five years are absolutely vital in the battle against climate change.
During these five years global emissions should be peaking and then falling, or at the very least, levelling off. At the moment the pre-2020 period doesn’t seem to have much priority in most countries, despite the fact that emissions must peak within this decade to keep global warming below 2°C. It is no secret that with current emission trends we are heading for a 3.6 to 4°C scenario; just check the IPCC’s work. We can’t allow emission figures to drift ever upwards — otherwise the long-term goals will become even harder to meet.
We know that many countries have already started taking actions on climate change at the national level. But we also know that these have not gone far enough. The arguments that action on climate change will negatively affect growth or poverty eradication are no longer valid. Many things can be, and should be, done right now. From scrapping coal-fired power stations and reducing deforestation, to increasing renewables and improving energy efficiency, there are plenty of ways to limit pre-2020 emissions and close the gigatonne gap.