Ambitious plan to bend the global emissions curve by 2020

At Google HQ in London an ambitious plan was launched by former UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres to accelerate climate action and bend the global emissions curve down by 2020.


  1. Figueres outlined six areas where action was needed to make 2020 a real turning point in the global emissions trend. For the last 3 years global emissions have been flat despite rising global GDP, a sign that economies are increasingly becoming disengaged from processes of carbon pollution. Here are the six areas.
  2. * Energy: needs to be at 30 percent global renewables by 2020, however we are already at 23.7 percent so this target appears quite achievable.
    * Transport emissions reduction: we need 25% of new vehicle sales to be zero emissions electric vehicles by 2020. Big ask, but already some countries have set targets and sales of EVs are rapidly increasing.
    * Land use change: in particular all deforestation needs to end by 2020, plus large-scale land restoration and agriculture shifts to earth friendly practices.
    * Heavy industry: needs to be implementing programs to reduce emissions. Cement Industry already finding alternative low emissions and even carbon negative cement products.
    * Cities: by mid century 70 percent of human population will be in cities. It is important cities and urban infrastructure be completely decarbonised by 2050. The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40), now in its 11th year, are already enacting programs to reduce emissions aiming for zero carbon cities by 2050.
    * Finance: Currently about $300 billion investment per year, this needs to be increased to at least $1 trillion investment by 2020 in clean technologies. Important that all financial institutions have a disclosed transition strategy.
  3. Christiana Figueres: “Everyone has a right to prosper, and if emissions do not begin their rapid decline by 2020, the world’s most vulnerable people will suffer even more from the devastating impacts of climate change. Science tells us this is our imperative, technology shows us we have what it takes, the economics are pointing us in the right direction and the benefits to humanity will be immense. This is no time to waver. What has been missing since Paris is a near term focal point for action,which is why we have brought together some of the best minds on the subject to collectively demonstrate that the arc of transformation to a fossil free energy system is possible. We have a collective responsibility to raise ambition, scale up our actions and move forward faster together to safeguard the sustainable development goals and protect the inalienable right to life of our and future generations. Let’s not be late.”
  4. Nicholas Stern articulated that the cost of action is far cheaper than the cost of inaction. In fact, he said that his 2006 seminal report over-estimated the costs of action. The rapid fall in the price of renewables has made the cost of climate action much less than initially estimated.
  5. Professor Nicholas Stern: “This report correctly identifies 2020 as a key milestone which will indicate whether we are on the path to realising the goals of the Paris Agreement. If the Paris target of holding global temperature increase to “well below 2oC” is to be met, there must be an acceleration around the world of the transition to low-carbon growth and development. This must occur at the same time as total infrastructure will likely more than double in the next two decades. Delay will increase the risks of lock-in to a high-carbon path that will make the Paris Agreement goals much more difficult and expensive to achieve. Leadership by national and local governments and businesses over the next three years can put us on the right path to a safer and more prosperous world. It is increasingly recognised around the world that there are potentially great attractive gains to growth and prosperity from a new low-carbon path, but the urgency for acceleration is intense.”