Independent assessment group Climate Action Tracker has published a new study outlining 10 key short-term sectoral benchmarks for climate action that must be taken by 2020-25 if we are to simply “keep the window open for a 1.5°C-consistent GHG emission pathway.”
The Climate Action Tracker (CAT) — an independent scientific analysis group made up of Climate Analytics, Ecofus, and the NewClimate Institute — published its new study, Ten key short-term sectoral benchmarks to limit warming to 1.5°C, in the peer-reviewed journal Climate Policy, in which it identifies 10 important and short-term sectoral benchmarks that key sectors — including energy generation, road transport, buildings, industry, forestry and land use, and commercial agriculture — must take if we are to have even a chance of achieving the Paris Climate Agreement’s 1.5°C limit.
The authors of the report “conducted a comprehensive review of existing emissions scenarios, scanned all sectors and the respective necessary transitions, and distilled the most important short-term benchmarks for action in line with the long-term perspective of the required global low-carbon transition.”
The full list of Climate Action Tracker’s ten benchmarks are:
The Climate Action Tracker’s hope is that the benchmarks can be used by governments in designing policy options that are in line with limiting global warming to 1.5°C. But the benchmarks also show that the benchmarks “require technology diffusion and sector transformations at a large scale and high speed,” and in many cases this must result in the “immediate introduction of zero-carbon technologies” rather than “marginal efficiency improvements.”
It is important, however, to realize that the greatest and most immediate change must happen across three specific sectors — energy generation, transport, and industry. If other sectors make changes but these three fail to make the necessary shifts, the hard work of other sectors might be for naught, resulting in a high-emissions legacy for decades to come. Further, these three sectors, which are already under significant pressure to make strong commitments, could serve to lead other industries, and benefit economically as a result.
Unsurprisingly, the Climate Action Tracker highlights the electricity sector as the most important sector needed to make changes, considering that it makes up one-quarter of all global emissions. “It needs to undertake the fastest transformation, and must be fully decarbonised by 2050,” CAT explains, adding that if renewables continue growing along their current growth rate the electricity sector would find itself on a path to full decarbonisation. Conversely, the analysis also concluded — as have many — that no new coal-fired power plants can be built, and that emissions from coal must drop by 30% by 2025, and by 65% by 2030.
Similarly tough measures are necessary in the transport sector where no fossil-fuel powered cars can be sold after 2035-2050, and while there are signs that this might not be as impossible as once was imagined with the rise of electric vehicles across many markets, the same cannot be said in other transport sectors such as the aviation and shipping sectors.
Meanwhile, the CAT report expects industrial production to grow significantly through to 2050 but that emissions must be reduced by well over 50% by the same time.