Navigating a steep downslope

9 months ago

Navigating a steep downslope

February 22, 2022

How we can achieve an ambitious emissions reduction target   

In October 2018, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s leading climate authority, declared that global emissions need to drop by 45% by 2030 if we are to limit global warming to 1.5°C.  (Quick primer here.) The ‘What’s needed?’ graphic on the left below became a pillar of every presentation I’ve made since: where we are headed (“Business as usual”), versus where we need to go (net zero by 2050).

But here we are in 2022, and, except for a COVID-caused blip, global emissions have barely budged from the “Business as usual” trajectory.  So now the graphic on the right is part of every presentation I make.

The difference?  Look closely in the yellow circle, and you’ll see that the line from now to 2030 has gotten noticeably steeper.  We have less time, and we need to do even more.

Discouraging?  You bet – especially to young people who understand it’ll be left to them to deal with the consequences.

But impossible to navigate?  Not at all; we have all the technology we need, and it’s getting less expensive every day.  The real missing ingredient is WILL – both political and individual.

So what can you do? 

  • First, why not start by taking a quick quiz to learn more about your carbon footprint?  I’ve long been an fan of the Global Footprint Network’s calculator; and I’ve recently discovered another excellent one, Climate Hero. Both take just minutes to complete, and both offer guidance on changes you can make that will have the biggest impact.
  • Secondly, be open to change: if you end up discovering a longstanding element of your lifestyle (such as air travel or a pickup truck, for example) has a huge carbon footprint, be receptive to the possibility that some changes may be necessary.
  • Third: think of ways you can use your power as a citizen, voter and consumer to be a proponent of positive change.  If that borders on the uncomfortable for you, please don’t shirk; there’s never been an issue as important as climate change.

The downslope is steep, but with focus and commitment we can do it, together!

Coming next time: a cost and emission comparison between a Honda Civic and a Chevy Bolt EV.

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