Michael Liebreich: So here we are, standing on the threshold of a new decade. It will be, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, a decade of consequences. Play it right, and we have a chance of avoiding the worst impacts of climate change. Waste it, and we are in uncharted territory. I am confident that we will end the next decade in a far better place than we are today, just as we are ending this decade in a far better place than we ended the previous one (as described by Angus McCrone in his October article Clean Energy’s Decade Nearly Gone, And Its Decade Ahead). I believe the new decade will see us hit peak energy-related greenhouse gas emissions and start to see a modest but meaningful decline. Just to be clear, we will not see the sort of decline demanded by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – a 20% cut by 2030 to keep temperature rises to 2C, a 45% cut to remain under 1.5C – but I would guess at a drop of around 5%. Clearly that is not enough to put us fully on track to avoid appalling climate change impacts, and by 2030 we will have to admit 1.5C is out of reach. But it will be a game-changer: it will demonstrate to even the most pessimistic that we can bend the arc; it will end the feeling of helplessness and impending doom that has taken over our public discourse; and it will set us up for much more decisive reductions in the subsequent decades. Optimism, therefore, but not without limits. It’s hard to be an unbridled optimist. Over the past decade, global emissions have risen by 15%. For one brief three-year period, between 2013 and 2016, they were flat – for the first time ever outside major recessions – but in 2017 they took off again, as the global economy boomed and China reverted to pumping cheap money into high-carbon infrastructure and building. Since then, emissions have been growing by around 1.2% per year.
Bloomberg 17th Dec 2019 read more »