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Disrupting Climate Change

Despite a surge of apocalyptic weather and fears of runaway climate change, there is still time to stem global warming and save the planet. The clean-energy transformation has already begun – and it will play out faster than most people expect.

DENVER – After a season of record-breaking hurricanes in the United States and floods across Asia, it would be easy to despair about the accelerating pace of climate change. Yet, despite the apocalyptic omens, an energy transformation big enough and fast enough to curb the spike in global temperature remains within reach. Better still, we do not need to wait for new inventions to implement the changes we need; the transformation can happen right now, with profitable solutions delivered by businesses and driven by markets.

Limiting the increase in global temperature to within 2º Celsius of preindustrial levels – the target set by the 2015 Paris climate agreement – will require decreasing reliance on fossil fuels, and changing how the world grows crops, harvests timber, and uses land. New research by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) shows that both outcomes are possible, and that, together, the impact can “positively” disrupt the trajectory of climate change.

According to our analysis, there are pathways for the future supply and demand of energy, and for how forests and land store carbon, that, if followed, will dramatically slow the pace of warming. By accelerating the clean-energy transition that is underway, it is possible to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions below what would be expected under current consumption patterns.