WHY

NOW?

The climate has reached a tipping point.  If unchecked, the current pace of fossil fuel based carbon emissions will cause irreversible and potentially disastrous impacts on the stability of our planet.  Our coastlines and cities are already under threat of rising seas and more intense storm events, and the natural systems we rely on for food and prosperity are declining.  Something must change.

World leaders united around a goal to mitigate climate change.

Although the scientific community has tracked the rise of CO2 concentrations in our atmosphere for decades and warned of its consequences, little progress has been made in a coordinated global effort to mitigate the crisis.  However, a historic turning point occurred in 2015 when the world’s leaders convened at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) and forged a global commitment to a long-term goal to limit global average temperature increase to:

“well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.”1

This statement sent a powerful message to businesses and governments across the world: coordinated action must be taken to rapidly shift towards a carbon neutral economy.

Global CO2 emissions must peak now and phase out by about 2050.

Beyond setting the goal, the conveners at COP21 were instrumental in defining the path to a 2°C world. Scientists affiliated with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) prepared projections of global carbon emissions through different scenarios called Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs)1. Their studies revealed that to have near certainty of avoiding temperature rise above 2°C, fossil fuel based carbon emissions must peak before 2020 and taper off to zero by about 2050.

Achieving Zero responds to this urgent timeframe by providing a unified framework for policy to drive climate action, one that helps policymakers and private industry adopt an accelerated pace of innovation and intervention.  Its targets are directly linked to the Paris Agreement goal and scientifically-defined milestones.

The findings of the IPCC pathway studies make it clear: the global community must take aggressive action to decarbonize, starting NOW.  But where will this action start, and who will be its champion?

[1] UNFCCC, 2015. Paris Agreement.

Government and industry leaders are committed.

In December of 2015 the Paris Agreement was signed by 194 countries, representing the largest global pact in history. Since then, 153 countries have ratified the Agreement – representing 2/3 of global GHG emissions – and have entered it into force through carbon reduction plans known as Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

In June 2017, a groundswell of support for the Paris Agreement by businesses and local government formed following the announcement that the U.S. federal government would withdrawal from the accord. Over 1,000 cities, counties, businesses and organizations across the U.S. committed to pursuing the original goals and targets specified in the NDCs.