From IPCC’s special report on Global Warming of 1.5 ºC to the declaration of “a climate emergency” with signatories from more than 11,000 scientists, it is evident that we are in the midst of the greatest challenge of this century. To stay within 1.5 ºC, we need to cut global net human-caused GHG emissions by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach ‘net zero’ around 2050.
Knowledge – Climate change is asymmetrical, so is the understanding of it and its impacts. For instance, we still have limited knowledge “on the health and well-being risks in the context of socio-economic and climate change at 1.5°C, especially in key areas such as occupational health, air quality and infectious disease”. To bridge knowledge gaps, we need to put more resources into research, and also to find better ways to communicate both risks and opportunities.
Technologies – Many technological solutions to combat climate change are already available. Clean energies such as wind and solar have become increasingly affordable and economically competitive. However, fossil fuels still dominate the energy mix in many countries. With a growing population and consumption-led economic growth, innovation is needed to scale up the adoption of clean energy technologies, as well as adaptation solutions to meet varied needs in different geographies and economies.
Finance – For supply-side energy system investments alone, the investment required to achieve the low-carbon transition is estimated to between USD1.6 trillion to USD3.8 trillion annually between 2016 and 2050. According to Climate Policy Initiative, annual average flows of tracked climate change in 2017 and 2018 rose by 25% from the 2015/2016 level to USD 579 billion, but 93% of the total flows went to mitigation. There is clearly a climate finance gap and an even bigger gap in terms of climate adaptation.
There’s no time to lose. As the latest “Asia and the Pacific SDG Progress Report 2019” grimly concludes that the Asia-Pacific region as a whole will not achieve any of the SDGs at the current pace. More than ever, we need to cooperation and collaboration, and concrete actions not just aspirations.
We need to build a new “Silk Road” – a network that facilitates the flow of knowledge, technologies and finance to accelerate climate actions
Photo by Feng Hu