Progress Lagging to Stick to Global Warming Limits

2021 The Warmest Year

With world leaders emerging at the Glasgow Climate Summit, numerous climate studies have come out giving out warning signals for the leadership to maintain global warming at 1.5°C. One such report finds progress lagging across all sectors to limit global warming.

The new report, State of Climate Action 2021, published under the systems change lab, this report is a joint effort between climate action tracker, climate works foundation, the bezos earth fund, and world resources institute.

The report translates the transformations required to keep global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C into 40 indicators of progress, with targets for 2030 and 2050 — such as rapidly phasing out unabated coal in electricity generation, effectively halting deforestation, and scaling up both public and private climate finance. The report assesses recent global progress towards these goals and identifies critical gaps in action.

The authors of the report say that none of the 40 indicators assessed are on track to reach 2030 targets. However, they point out as encouraging that the majority of indicators (25) are moving in the right direction, albeit too slowly. Of the remaining 15 indicators, recent progress has stagnated for three, change is heading in the wrong direction entirely for another three, and the remaining nine lack sufficient data to assess progress, they said.

The study cited that limiting global warming to 1.5°C required far-reaching transformations across power generation, buildings, industry, transport, land use, coastal zone management, and agriculture, as well as the immediate scale-up of technological carbon removal and climate finance.


The authors mention that progress was made in the last five years at a promising pace for eight indicators such as renewables in electricity generation, proportion of electric vehicles and crop yields. However, these rates need to almost double for reaching 2030 targets, aligned with a 1.5 degrees C pathway,

They also mentioned about encouraging signs of progress, spurred on by a diverse portfolio of supportive measures, from corporate commitments to manufacture electric vehicles to solar and wind subsidies. However, they stated that there was no guarantee they would follow an S-curve innovative technology.

On uptake of solar and wind power, electric vehicles and electric buses, they noted that the stake holders should nurture with the right support at the right time — from ramping up investments in complementary technologies (such as batteries for electric vehicles) to adopting policies that incentivize adoption of these new innovations, while also discouraging the continued use of existing high-carbon technologies.


The authors of the study stressed that recent rates of progress for 17 indicators, from green hydrogen production to reforestation, must at least double to achieve 2030 targets. For several of the indicators, the level of acceleration required is significantly higher, they pointed out. As an indication, they said that the world should restore large areas of natural ecosystems for reducing the conversion of land. Reforestation and coastal wetlands restoration must accelerate threefold to regain 259 million hectares of forests and restore 7 million hectares of mangrove forests, sea grass meadows and salt marshes by 2030.

They called on policymakers to focus more on improving performance and bringing down costs. Scaling up investments in research, development and demonstration projects, expanding complementary infrastructure like renewable power capacity to meet energy needs sustainably and creating new markets for products made from captured CO2 can all help increase the deployment of these carbon removal technologies.


An alarming proportion stated in t6eh study is that change for some indicators needs to see a sharp U-turn in action. The rate of deforestation, for instance, must decline 70 per cent by 2030, relative to 2018. However, annual deforestation and associated emissions have risen since 2010. Efforts to reduce forest loss are hampered by a number of economic and political barriers such as growing demand for commodities like beef, soy and palm oil incentivize forest conversion; limited finance for conservation hampers efforts to protect forests; and insecure land rights leave forests managed by Indigenous Peoples and local communities vulnerable.


The authors stress significant financial investments, technology transfer and capacity-building especially for developing countries for achieving global targets by 2030. Despite climate finance continues to increase, it remains far from sufficient. The report finds that five trillion dollars is needed annually by 2030 to finance the system wide transformations needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C.


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