Climate Ambition Benchmarks: Defining the path to net-zeroThe We Mean Business coalition
To have any chance of keeping global warming to a maximum of 1.5°C, as the IPCC’s special report shows is necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, the global economy must set a course for net-zero emissions by mid-century.
The scale of the transition needed to achieve a net-zero emissions economy is unprecedented and requires the rapid transformation of entire industries, including energy and transport. The good news is a growing body of evidence shows it is a challenge that is achievable and one that will help unlock new growth opportunities for economies and businesses.
The Climate Ambition Benchmarks project is a joint initiative of the ClimateWorks Foundation, the European Climate Foundation and the We Mean Business coalition. The project seeks to break down the overall goal of limiting global warming to no more than 1.5°C, into a set of intermediate sectoral benchmarks, to demonstrate what can and must be achieved in key systems and geographies to be on track.
We set these ambitious goals as the benchmark toward which all businesses, governments and organizations should be striving to reach as fast as possible.
These benchmarks add much needed clarity to complicated the work of developing ambitious long-term strategies to deliver net-zero emissions. They demonstrate what is required, building the evidence base for what can be achieved. And crucially they show that the future economy we are collectively striving for is possible.
Based on publicly available data, the Climate Ambition Benchmarks translate the Paris Agreement’s global long-term temperature goal into specific, “highest plausible ambition” targets. These are broken down into economy-wide emissions, power generation, and electric vehicle (EV) sales. The benchmarks also break down the global goal to region-specific goals for China, the EU, India, and the US.
To ensure the benchmarks are ambitious enough to achieve the Paris goals, they incorporate global models and scenarios. These are designed to achieve a specific emissions reduction goal and distribute reductions across sectors and geographies in a globally cost-effective way.
In addition to global modeling, the project looks sector by sector at the other signs of progress and change. These include trends in supply, demand, technology costs and deployment, and incorporates the evidence that specific sectors can be transitioning even faster than the global models predict to establish more ambitious benchmarks.
Net-zero by 2050 is achievable
The analysis shows that all four major geographies can achieve net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050, and that the EU and US could reach that target by 2045.
In the energy sector, the benchmarks show that a global coal phase out is possible by as early as 2040, with the US and EU achieving the goal by 2030. While reaching 100% of electricity from emission-free sources is possible globally by 2050.
In the transport sector, EVs could make up 100% of all new light duty vehicle sales by 2030.
Evidence from across the economy shows that these rapid transitions are possible and beginning to happen. Where businesses are making clear commitments to achieving these ambitious goals they are achieving them and showing themselves to be leaders in the economy of the future.
Where law-makers are setting out clear, time-bound targets and policies to achieve a full transition, businesses then have the clarity and confidence they need to do more and the pace of change will continue to accelerate.
Together, if business and policy embrace these benchmarks with confidence, they can drive progress by creating an ambition loop and put the economy on a clearly defined path to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement.