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The World Economic Forum recently published a report on the progress of reaching a true net zero target. The authors, Patrick Herhold (Managing Director and Partner, Centre for Climate Action, Boston Consulting Group) and Emily Farnworth (Head of Climate Change Initiatives, World Economic Forum) looked at the progress made in the past year. They concluded that while progress was made, it was not sufficient – countries have to act faster and propose more aggressive policies; industries have to increase their efforts; and the public opinion needs to increase and put more pressure on both governments and the private sector. (You can read the entire report here).  

Couple of highlights:

  • Carbon emissions are actually continuing to rise. One contributor is the increased need for electricity around the world, which is projected to grow by 25% between now and 2040. Other contributors: transportation and industries like steel, concrete, and plastic. 
  • Commitments from governments are insufficient. In the US, it is state and local governments that have more aggressive targets than the federal government. 
  • There is a growing number of companies who pledged to hit net-zero targets. Interesting stat: out of million of corporations globally, only 7,000 of them publish climate-related data. 
  • Innovation abounds. There are very interesting companies  with innovative products and business models that creating new sustainable offering. Couple of examples: SkyNRG (aggregates alternative fuels for aviation), Impossible (alternative meat products), and Solidia (concrete cured with CO2).
  • No one company or individual can tackle this alone.  Creating an ecosystem of partners – private, public, government can accelerate the implementation of new ideas and sound policies. Here are couple of such ecosystems: Mission Possible Platform, Clean Skies for Tomorrow, Renewable Energy 100 (RE100) and Electric Vehicle 100 (EV100), Natural Climate Solutions Alliance, Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, Carbon Pricing Leadership Coalition, Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance, Climate Action 100+, CDP, and Step Up Coalition
  • Governments need to introduce serious policies about climate change. There are only very few countries that have made climate change an emergency and introduce legislation to aggressively curb its impacts. 
  • Consumers and individuals need to do their part. Waiting for the government or big companies to do their part is not sufficient. Each one of us needs to do our part – from diet to transportation to low-carbon homes to sustainable consumption. 
  • Education about climate change and its impact is critical. Understanding what it is and how it impacts every aspect of our lives is fundamental if we want mass adoption of changes.

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