Literally No Country Is Doing Enough to Meet the Paris Accord

CC BY 2.0. Tony Webster

Well, this is depressing...

I tend to be an optimist. When Donald Trump decided to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord, I argued that the global momentum and political will was such that progress would continue regardless.

I still believe this is true.

From entire countries banning gas and diesel car sales to giant corporations embracing 100% renewable electricity, I do believe that the general direction of travel has now been set and the only real question remaining is whether we'll get there fast enough to stave off the worst impacts of climate change.

But here, my optimism gets more shaky. While progress is being made on several important fronts, a new report from consulting giant PwC pulls absolutely zero punches in terms of whether or not we are moving fast enough to solve the problem:

There seems to be almost zero chance of limiting warming to well below two degrees (the main goal of the Paris Agreement), though widespread use of carbon capture and storage technologies, including Natural Climate Solutions, may make this possible. Each year that the global economy fails to decarbonise at the required rate, the two degree goal becomes more difficult to achieve.

Even the UK and China—economies which are leading the way in terms of reducing carbon intensity—are not doing enough to meet the 2 degree target. Specifically, the report says that the gap between the current rate of decarbonization and the rate needed to reach even the 2 degree limit to warming (let alone the more ambitious goal of 1.5 degrees!) is widening, with it currently standing at 6.4% decarbonization per year for the rest of the century. And every year we delay action, the steeper rates of decarbonization we need to achieve in every year that follows.

But like I say, I'm an optimist. So let me offer up one small sliver of (quite possibly misguided!) hope: And that's the fact that change, and especially technological and societal change, is usually very far from linear. We might be making miserable progress on decarbonizing transportation right now, but we might also be on the cusp of a very real paradigm shift.

It still behooves all of us to push such paradigm shifts as fast as humanly possible. And this latest piece of depressing research from PwC should be considered one more nudge for doing so.