This year’s edition of Climate Week, the annual carbon-cutting confab in New York City, where governments and companies announce their green ambitions, seemed to reflect a new sense of urgency to address a warming planet.
Some of the pledges announced at climate week included:
- China, the world’s largest emitter, pledged it would eliminate carbon emissions by 2060.
- California promised to stop sales of new gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles after 2035, following in the footsteps of similar proposals in the United Kingdom.
- Wamart, te world’s largest retailer, said it would zero out emissions from its operations by 2040.
- Morgan Stanley said it would eliminate the emissions it finances by 2050.
- General Electric Co. announced it would stop building new coal turbines.
The enormity of the task was on vivid display.
- Forty-three forest fires continue to burn uncontained across the western United States.
- There have been so many tropical storms have formed in the Atlantic Ocean that forecasters have resorted to identifying them by Greek names.
- Carbon dioxide concentrations recorded at the Mauna Loa Observatory are the highest levels in history, despite an economy-crushing pandemic that has resulted in a record drop in the world’s output of CO2.
The pledges made last week are unusual in their scope. One person estimated that if China follows through, it could chop warming by 0.25 degree C.
But another person, David Victor, a professor of international relations and co-director of the Deep Decarbonization Initiative at the University of California, San Diego, said “Scientists are often asked whether it is possible to meet some ambitious goal like 2°, and if everything lines up perfectly and people have perfect information and they act in perfect coordination then yes those kinds of goals are possible.” “But when you evaluate them through the lens of how quickly technological systems change and how quickly political systems change then the possible looks a whole lot harder.”
The article also noted the absence of the federal government in the climate arena. The world’s chances of reaching the Paris Agreement’s goals are considerably worse if the government of the planet’s second-largest emitter continues to oppose policies to reduce emissions, analysts said.