If you’re in a position of leadership, your time to step up is now

By Gonzalo Muñoz and Nigel Topping, UN High Level Climate Champions for the COP25 and COP26 summits | September 17, 2021

The implications of the latest UNFCCC NDC Synthesis report could not be clearer: the world has not made anything like enough progress to tackle the climate crisis. Without immediate action, we risk losing our Race to Zero emissions and the better world promised by the Paris Agreement.

The current cumulative level of ambition of submitted NDCs put us on track for a disastrous 16% increase in global emissions by 2030, dangerously far from the 45-50% emission cuts that we need to keep 1.5C alive and secure a safe and stable planet.

As we have already learned first-hand from the extreme weather events sweeping the globe this year, every fraction of a degree — every second of delay — counts. We are at a critical moment in time, where we must decide to do whatever it takes to halve emissions by 2030 and protect our collective future.

Despite this, the report shows us that we can see signs that the Paris Agreement is delivering. The subset of 70 Parties that have both submitted new NDCs and are targeting net-zero by the middle of this century are set to deliver emissions reductions of 26% by 2030. It’s not enough, but it does show progress.

Simultaneously, we have seen non-state actors stepping-up across the real economy, with thousands of companies, cities, regions, financial, educational and healthcare institutions under the UN Race to Zero and Race to Resilience campaigns mobilizing rapidly towards the guiding star of halving emissions by 2030, while also delivering a healthier, cleaner, more resilient world.

If these actors race together with governments, we have the opportunity to rapidly accelerate progress, generating a positive feedback loop of public-private partnerships and radical collaboration that deliver breakthroughs across the real economy to achieve decarbonisation at scale. Countries and non-state actors can either choose to do what it takes to win this race, or be complicit in condemning future generations to vast economic damage and untold human suffering

All of us can see that the science is unmistakable. We’ve entered the last decisive decade for humanity’s future on planet earth and, at COP26, everyone should come to the table with nothing less than the highest level of ambition to deliver a safer future for all. If we want to win this race, we must run faster than we’ve ever run before.

The gap between the future we want and the world we will get is massive. Only leadership can close it now. Never has there been greater need or broader support for it from businesses, investors, cities, regional and civil society. If you’re in a position of leadership, your time to step up is now.

This is our chance to decide our future.

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