In order to keep global warming to no more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, we need to achieve a 45% cut in global carbon emissions (from 2010 levels) by 2030, reaching a target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
What are the carbon emission targets that must be reached by 2030?
There are many possible pathways to reaching the IPCC target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. But there is really only one way to cut emissions to the extent required by 2030, and that is by moving swiftly to electric vehicles (EVs), to electric heating, and to clean wind and solar powered electricity.
What are the minimum requirements for achieving the climate targets?
Other steps are required to reach net-zero emissions over the next 30 years. But unless we take these hugely important steps (and make some initial headway on the others) during the next 10 years, we will have missed our one chance to avert climate catastrophe.
Unless we also address the unsustainable levels of inequality we now have in this country and in the world, we risk losing everything – including our fight against climate change.
What are the inequality targets that need to be reached by 2030?
Globally, the nations of the world have agreed to a set of “Sustainable Development Goals,” or SDGs, for substantially reducing poverty and inequality in world by 2030. Those goals also apply to the United States, and are the absolute minimum we should be willing to accept as a country.
What are the minimum requirements for achieving the inequality targets?
Reducing poverty and inequality is about creating decent, well-paid jobs, improving access to public services, regenerating both rural and rundown urban areas, providing education and job opportunities for disadvantaged minorities, and much more. All of that costs money, which is why an essential first step is getting wealthy individuals and corporations to pay their fair share of taxes.
A “Green New Deal” (or GND) would move the US and the rest of the world off of their dependency on fossil fuels and onto a new path in just 10 years. This simply cannot happen through “market forces” or personal lifestyle choices. More energy conservation measures and reductions in the massive amounts of energy we waste as a society are still needed, but to address the scale of the requirement, serious government intervention is required.
Under President Obama, some steps were taken to cut emissions and reduce demand, but much more investment, stronger legislation and a real commitment from all sectors of society is needed to achieve the goal. The next administration will need to address all this on a scale not seen since FDR’s “New Deal” of the 1930s.
A GND needs to begin right now, and it needs to address the other two life-threatening global emergencies if it is to achieve the targets needed to address the climate crisis.
Failing to address inequality risks failing on climate because the measures needed to cut carbon require more than government intervention. These measures require the buy-in and participation of a very large number of people.
If the net result of government measures to address the climate crisis is that large numbers of people end up in the same economic condition as they are now, or even worse off, they are unlikely to accept it. And without cooperation from citizens, it is hard to see how these measures can succeed.
Failing to address the nuclear nightmare also risks failing on climate. The money, skills and infrastructure currently wasted on nuclear weapons are urgently needed for addressing the climate crisis. And we need the international cooperation and goodwill that is currently being squandered by the way we treat the rest of the world.