State of Climate Action 2022
While many countries, regions, cities, companies and financial institutions have made more ambitious commitments to fight climate change, significant acceleration of action is needed this decade to keep the keep the 1.5°C temperature limit within reach.
The State of Climate Action 2022 provides a comprehensive assessment of the gap in climate action by highlighting where recent progress must accelerate over the next decade across power, buildings, industry, transport, forests and land, food and agriculture, technological carbon removal, and finance.
The report translates the systemwide transformations that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finds are necessary to limit warming to 1.5°C into 40 indicators of progress with 2030 and 2050 targets, such as phasing out unabated coal in electricity generation, effectively halting deforestation and much more.
Of the 40 indicators assessed in the report, none are on track to reach their 2030 targets. Six are heading in the right direction at a promising but insufficient speed, while 21 are also trending in the right direction but well below the required pace. Five indicators are trending in the wrong direction entirely, while t data are insufficient to evaluate the final eight indicators.
Recent years have witnessed some bright spots, particularly among indicators directly tracking adoption of zero-carbon technologies. Despite lagging progress overall, the report does point to some encouraging signs. The adoption of zero-carbon power sources, including renewables like solar and wind power, is on the rise across the world, with recent years witnessing record-breaking growth in uptake of these technologies. From 2019 to 2021, for example, solar generation grew by 47 percent and wind by 31 percent.
The transition to electric vehicles (EVs) is also taking off, with EVs accounting for almost nine percent of passenger car sales in 2021 — a doubling from the year before. And the global share of battery electric and fuel cell electric vehicles in buses sales reached 44 percent in 2021, growing from just two percent in 2013 — an increase of over 20 times in under a decade.
While promising, these bright spots, alone, cannot deliver the systemwide transformations now needed to limit warming to 1.5°C. Although recent years have witnessed extraordinary growth in the uptake of renewables, for example, the share of electricity generated from zero-carbon power sources has experienced almost no net change since 2000, because total electricity generation has risen globally. Unabated coal-based electricity generation, although declining worldwide, continues to expand across some regions, while unabated fossil gas-based electricity, is still rising globally. Together, these trends are offsetting gains in zero-carbon power.
While they account for an increasing share of passenger car sales, EVs still make up a small fraction of the light-duty vehicle fleet globally—just 1.3% in 2021. And without additional policies, it will take time for this vehicle stock to turn over. Similarly, the transition to EVs accounts for just one facet of transforming the transportation systems, and efforts to shift to more sustainable modes of transit, such as public transit, walking, or cycling, remain well off track.
Getting on track by 2030 will require an enormous acceleration in effort.
To achieve these near-term, 1.5°C-aligned targets, the world must:
- Phase out coal power generation six times faster — equivalent to retiring 925 average-sized coal plants per year.
- Improve the energy intensity of building operations five times faster for commercial buildings and seven times faster for residential buildings.
- Lower the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per tonne of cement produced over ten times faster.
- Expand public transportation systems, including metros, light-rail trains, and bus rapid transit networks, across the world’s highest-emitting cities six times faster.
- Reduce the annual rate of deforestation 2.5 times faster — equivalent to avoiding deforestation across an area roughly equivalent to all arable land in Switzerland each year.
- Shift to healthier, more sustainable diets five times faster by lowering per capita consumption of ruminant meat to the equivalent of 2 burgers per week across Europe, the Americas, and Oceania.
- Phase out public financing for fossil fuels five times faster — equivalent to reducing subsidies by an average of $69 billion per year.
We also have never had more information about the gravity of the climate emergency, nor what needs to be done to mitigate it.
Investing in research, development, and demonstration of zero-emissions technologies; adopting policies that mandate or incentivize the transition to a 1.5°C pathway; strengthening institutions to implement these laws and regulations; establishing ambitious climate commitments and following through on them; and shifting behaviors and social norms can all help accelerate progress across all 40 indicators.