The Urgency of the Climate Challenge
Achieving the ambitious goal of reducing emissions requires tried and tested policies, international cooperation, ecosystem stewardship and inclusive governance. These efforts can be accelerated by local governments.
Keeping global temperature increase below 1.5 degrees Celsius will require all countries to rapidly decarbonize their economies and remove carbon from the atmosphere. This is a moral imperative and an economic necessity.
Climate change is a global crisis
Whether we live in coastal communities in Alaska or rural areas in India, the impacts of climate change are already here. In fact, they are happening faster than scientists had previously estimated. Global warming is causing a range of risks to human health, infrastructure and the stability of natural ecosystems.
Vulnerable people are being disproportionately impacted by climate change. They are struggling to secure the food, water and land they need for their survival and livelihoods. In addition, they are dealing with other drivers of fragility and conflict such as resource competition and escalating climate-related disasters.
To address the challenge, we need a broad range of actors to work together to scale up action. This includes States and cities promoting clean energy, corporations shifting to lower-carbon products and services, and civil society organizations engaging citizens on climate risk and green growth. It also means ensuring that everyone is adequately informed, engaged and empowered to participate in the decisions that affect them.
It is a moral imperative
Taking strong, immediate action to reduce carbon emissions is not only morally right, but it’s also financially smart. In fact, there are many ways businesses can take action to protect the planet and create a more prosperous future for all.
Moreover, the world cannot afford to delay mitigation efforts because every incremental increment of warming increases risks for people and ecosystems. The upcoming climate talks in Glasgow must set bolder emission reduction targets, bolster adaptation plans, and articulate national roadmaps for achieving them.
The health sector can play a critical role in this effort. By building resilience to extreme weather and disease through the Health Care Climate Challenge, it can join other sectors of society in a Race to Zero, a global effort to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. In addition, reducing short-lived climate pollutants can complement efforts to mitigate carbon dioxide emissions and help keep global temperatures from rising more rapidly. This is why we are proud to support the efforts of this important initiative.
It is an economic imperative
In a world that is already tipping toward self-destruction, the climate crisis has been made much worse by governments’ failure to act quickly enough. If we don’t cut emissions dramatically, a warming of up to 2.4 degrees Celsius will be inevitable.
The science is clear: to meet the 1.5 degree goal, global carbon output must be halved by 2030. Yet a review of the plans submitted by countries for the Glasgow talks found that they will not deliver.
It’s time for leaders to commit to a decisive decade of action and a path to a net zero economy, based on renewable energy and a green transformation of agriculture, forestry, and industry. And to do that, they must make full use of the wealth of innovation and capital they have at their disposal.
This means mobilizing investment in clean technology and reducing barriers to finance. Governments can help by increasing funding and establishing clear signals to investors.
It is a crisis multiplier
Climate change has been a major factor in stoking political, economic and social tensions across the globe. These tensions are exacerbated by the lack of meaningful engagement with the issue.
Fortunately, there are tried and tested policies to address the climate crisis and achieve deep emissions reductions and climate resilience. These include renewable energy, a just transition away from fossil fuels, climate-smart agriculture and nature-based solutions.
Emissions must be cut in half by 2030 to keep global warming below 1.5°C. Countries need to accelerate their efforts towards carbon neutrality and deploy low-carbon technologies.
We also need to support a low-carbon urban transformation. This will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from food, transport, buildings and industry. In addition, it will improve air quality and provide new opportunities for jobs and business. It will also help address climate-related risks and foster social inclusion. This is indispensable for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, including those related to gender equality, children’s rights and indigenous peoples.