While the world is making some progress on climate change, work to transform the energy system and curb forest loss is happening too slowly to keep warming to 1.5 degrees C, according to a new report. On only one measure is the pace of change sufficient: electric vehicle sales.
“The world has made some progress — in some cases, exponential progress — but overall we are lagging, with several trends moving quickly in the wrong direction,” said Ani Dasgupta, head of the World Resources Institute, one the groups behind the new report, which measured 37 indicators of progress toward the 1.5-degree goal set forth in the Paris Agreement.
The report found that on 30 indicators the world is making headway, but not quickly enough. The rapid growth of clean energy means the world is now on the cusp of peak fossil fuels, but to avoid catastrophic warming, countries must build out wind and solar power nearly twice as fast and shutter coal plants seven times faster. And, despite recent progress on stemming forest loss, countries must curb deforestation four times more quickly. More work is also needed to clean up heavy industry and limit the consumption of meat.
On six other indicators the world is moving in the wrong direction entirely. Among these is the growing sum of public money put toward fossil fuels. With war and supply shocks roiling energy markets, countries have ramped up fossil fuel subsidies to combat rising prices. Fossil fuel subsidies reached a new high last year.
Countries “continue to use public funds and subsidies to hold onto our fossil past,” said Claire Fyson of Climate Analytics, one of the groups behind the report. “Clean energy markets are bullish. Governments everywhere should be getting in on the act.”
EV sales are the one area where the world is moving at the pace needed. Last year, EVs accounted for 10 percent of car sales globally, and if trends continue, they will account for more than 75 percent of cars sold in 2030, the target for keeping warming to 1.5 degrees C.
“We’re seeing electric vehicles take off faster than what we thought possible just a few years ago,” said Helen Mountford of the ClimateWorks Foundation. “If we can replicate this progress in other areas, it shows that transformative change is possible,” she said.