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Please note that this is a collaborative website that serves to assemble the different elements of the WESR-Climate change data & information platform. The different components will be integrated later within an ad-hoc layout on the dedicated section of the UNEP-WESR website ....

Introduction

Today we still have the chance to limit global temperatures to 1.5°C. While there will still be climate impacts at 1.5°C, this is the level scientists say is associated with less devastating impacts than higher levels of global warming. Every fraction of additional warming beyond 1.5°C will result in increasingly severe and expensive impacts.

-UN Environment: Emissions Gap Report -


This figure is our global solution. Collectively, if commitments, policies and action can deliver a 7.6% emissions reduction every year between 2020 and 2030, we CAN limit global warming to 1.5°C

-UN Environment: Emissions Gap Report -


Climate solutions are interconnected as a system, and we need all of them.

The notion of “silver bullets” has persistent appeal—“what’s the one big thing we can do?”—but they simply don’t exist for complex problems such as the climate crisis. A whole system of solutions is required. Many climate solutions combine and cooperate, leveraging or enabling others for the greatest impact. For example, efficient buildings make distributed, renewable electricity generation more viable. The food system requires interventions on both supply and demand sides—e.g., better farming practices and reduced meat consumption. For greatest benefit, electric vehicles need 100% clean power on which to run. We need many, interconnected solutions for a multi-faceted, systemic challenge.

The Drawdown Review 2020


With the same logic, the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were conceived as an interconnected system of objectives that addresses the major challenges to achieve sustainable development in its three dimensions: the economic, social and environmental. The SDGs are a call for action - collective and multi-scale action.

As the video highlights, individual action is more effective when carried out by many people. Equally important is that actors at all levels are engaged in the same cause, such as governments, civil society and the private sector, in order to enable the conditions for change.

Action fields

Governance

Slow policy progress over 30 years means that incremental decarbonisation is no longer an option. Only decisive and rapid action can reduce the risk of catastrophic climate change, and simultaneously improve the quality of life for millions of people. Without decisive action to drive the fastest and fairest economic transition in history, this generation of leaders is handing the next generation an increasingly destabilised climate and Earth system. Indeed, decisions made today about infrastructure investments in energy systems, roads, railways, ships, aircraft and buildings will influence whether global warming can be stabilised around 1.5°C or not this century. On the political spheres, measures to tackle the causes of climate change need support from politicians and citizens. 

Source

The State is the only one that can declare the rules which make it possible to redirect investments into carbon reduction sectors at the expense of brown assets; as well as being able to implement financial incentives and adequate regulations, educate employees about climate issues, and, if necessary, consider climate concern during commercial negotiations. Know more about green economics here.

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The importance of institutions

Individual and household involvement in reducing the carbon footprint in lifestyles is crucial, yet also insufficient to reach the reduction targets and to aim for carbon neutrality in 2050.

In two centuries (since the industrial revolution), we have developed a social and technical environment built on the promise of abundant and cheap fossil fuels, without enough negative constraints to force us to deliberately set ourselves a limit. It is machines that emit CO2, not humans; in order to reduce economies’ carbon footprints, individual action is definitely part of the answer, but it is not enough to achieve the necessary reduction.

Likewise, technical efficiency and improvement are essential, but not enough.

In order to win this battle, we need to look beyond the individual level and reach a new level of collective action. Alongside the efforts made in our private lives, which should already be taking place, the public sector should also support its citizens or employees by triggering a change which is much more radical and profound than what is happening at the moment.

The intersection between individual action and public engagement is yet central: pushing governments, voting for greener initiatives and politicians and demanding climate response in every economic sector is fundamental to promote change for sustainability.

Are governments doing enough?

No. Today, countries are not doing enough. An increasing number of countries and regions are adopting ambitious goals in line with the transformation needed, but the scale and pace is not sufficient.

Most nations are expected to strengthen their climate commitments in 2020. To date, 71 countries and 11 regions, accounting for about 15% of global GHG emissions in total, have long-term objectives to achieve net-zero emissions, differing in scope, timing and the degree to which they are legally binding. This leaves countries representing the remaining 85% of global GHG emissions still to make similar commitments.

The G20 (a group of 19 countries, plus the EU) account for 78% of all emissions. Theirs is the biggest opportunity to lead the world into a thriving, renewable future.

Source: UN Environment: Emissions Gap Report -


List of actions (from Drawdown Review 2020)

Health and Education

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Circular economy

A circular economy can be definite as maximizing the circulation of products, components and materials and the value bound to them as much as possible in the economy. This goes beyond environmental benefits and creates real economic and social benefits too.

An immediate priority is to build out the infrastructure required for the circular economy and accelerate reuse of materials through refunding schemes, increased scrap collection and recycling rates.

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The importance of circular economy

More circular economy could cut cumulative emissions from heavy industry by 56% by 2050 in the EU, and 45% of cumulative emissions from the steel, cement, plastic and aluminum products globally. Additionally, service-based business models, where buildings, tools and vehicles which sit idle for 90% of the time are unlocked for others to use, are another huge opportunity to boost profits and reduce emissions simultaneously.

Source

List of actions (from Drawdown Review 2020)

Reduced Food Waste

Recycling

Composting

Waste-to-Energy

Abandoned Farmland Restoration

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Technology

Technologies used to address climate change are known as climate technologies. Climate technologies that help to reduce GHGs include renewable energies such as wind energy, solar power and hydropower. To adapt to the adverse effects of climate change, we use climate technologies such as drought-resistant crops, early warning systems and sea walls. There are also ‘soft’ climate technologies, such as energy-efficient practices or training for using equipment. (source UNFCCC)

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The importance of technology improvement

In the energy sector, social and technological innovations coupled with strong efficiency standards can potentially reduce the energy demand, especially as readily-available technological substitutions already exist for more than 70% of today’s emissions. The speed of the transformation will also be decided by the growing political, technological and economic momentum of renewable energy. Between 2006 and 2016, solar and wind power have gone from a combined 0.7% to 5% share of global electricity production, doubling their output every 3 years while dropping in price.

Source

List of actions (from Drawdown Review 2020)

Refrigerant Management

Onshore Wind Turbines

Utility-Scale Solar Photovoltaics

Distributed Solar Photovoltaics

Insulation

Offshore Wind Turbines

Alternative Cement

Efficient Aviation

District Heating

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Life style

A general awareness of climate issues has grown in recent years, but translating words to action doesn't always make it to the top of the agenda.
One of the reasons for this lag is that people generally have a certain tendency to believe that the action should take place "elsewhere" while claiming that they would have taken enough action in their own way. 



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Simple actions in your daily life can have a huge impact when multiplied by the people that act like you.

What impact can we expect from “small daily actions”? What impact could radical change in individual behavior have on an average carbon footprint?

Among the individual actions which can have the biggest impact, one is moving away from a meat-based diet towards a plant-rich or vegetarian diet. It makes it possible to limit the emissions issued from livestock (methane emissions by ruminants) and deforestation (releasing carbon as a result of the changes in the land use). Also, reducing food waste contributes significantly to reduce the emissions associated with every step of food production and transport. Next best are the actions related to modes of transportation (car sharing, avoiding flights, preferring ‘soft’ mobility and public transportation), to the consumption of goods and services (less new clothing, second-hand household appliances and devices, and zero-waste orientation) and finally housing (thermostat, LED lighting). These considerations are based on this publication and this assessment.

More information about food and environment can be found in this UNEP report.

List of actions (from Drawdown Review 2020)

Reduced Food Waste

Plant-Rich Diets

Public Transit

Carpooling

LED Lighting

Smart Thermostats

Insulation

Recycling



Invest in nature restoration and conservation

Nature plays a vital role: absorbing and storing carbon through biological and chemical processes, effectively fixating CO2 out of the atmosphere. Human activities can support natural carbon sinks, and many ecosystem or agriculture-related climate solutions have the double benefit of reducing emissions and absorbing carbon simultaneously.


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The importance of soil’s contribution to climate change

Soil’s contribution to climate change, through the oxidation of soil carbon, is important. However, soils – and thus agriculture - can play a major role in mitigating climate change. Through multiple agricultural practices, we could help store vast amounts of atmospheric carbon in the soil, while at the same time regenerating soil fertility, plant health and whole ecosystems. This is a no regret option that offers multiple benefits and deserves high-level visibility.

Estimates for carbon sequestration through improved practices vary considerably as the understanding of the interactions and especially the knowledge of the behavior of soils is still limited.

Various studies indicate theoretical potentials of 0.8 to 8 GtC per year, partially including af-/re-forestation practices, and reaching up to 10 GtC/yr of additional carbon on agricultural land 41,55, while practically achievable carbon removal amounts are rather located in the lower range of 1.5 to 2.5 GtC/yr. With global carbon emissions in 2016 from fossil fuels and industry of 9.9 GtC plus 1.3 GtC due to land-use changes (such as deforestation), the potential for carbon sequestration through regenerative agricultural practices looks rather promising.

UNEP 2020

Climate solutions that enhance land-based sinks cluster around waste and diets, ecosystem protection and restoration, improved agriculture practices, and prudent use of degraded land.

List of actions (from Drawdown Review 2020)

Tropical Forest Restoration

Silvopasture

Tree Plantations (on Degraded Land)

Temperate Forest Restoration

Managed Grazing

Perennial Staple Crops

Tree Intercropping

Regenerative Annual Cropping

Peatland Protection and Rewetting

Indigenous Peoples’ Forest Tenure


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What are the most effective actions?  Which sectors have major impact on reducing heat-trapping gases?


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Drawdown” is the point in the future when levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere stop climbing and start to steadily decline, thereby stopping catastrophic climate change.

Project Drawdown conducts an ongoing review and analysis of climate solutions—the practices and technologies that can stem and begin to reduce the excess of greenhouse gases by avoiding emissions and/or by sequestering carbon dioxide already in the atmosphere.

The rankings shown here are based on projected emissions impact globally. The relative importance of a given solution can differ significantly depending on context and particular ecological, economic, political, or social conditions.

Table of solutions and their description