No Time to Spare for the Paris Climate Promise
In the five years since the world came together to conclude the Paris climate agreement, the geopolitical environment has changed profoundly, and the disastrous effects of global warming have become increasingly evident. Having squandered past opportunities and shirked previous commitments, we now must start making up for lost time.
DUBLIN – COVID-19 turned the world upside down in 2020. But it has also shown us that when there is a political consensus for action, human ingenuity and innovation can be deployed at the scale and speed needed to meet global challenges.
With unprecedented speed, we have developed, tested, and begun to deploy multiple effective vaccines for COVID-19. Now we must bring the same resolve to bear on fighting the other great existential threat to humanity: climate change. As United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres put it last month, “our future security and prosperity depend on bold climate action.”
And yet, even at the most recent Climate Ambition Summit on December 12, many leaders’ commitments still fell far short of what is needed to meet this collective challenge. To be sure, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and even some of the smaller countries that are most vulnerable to climate change have significantly strengthened their 2030 emissions-reduction targets. But the United States, Japan, China, and other major greenhouse-gas emitters still need to follow suit, preferably well ahead of the UN Climate Conference (COP26) in Glasgow this coming November. Given the crisis we face, there are no more excuses for delay or prevarication.