Raising Global Climate Ambition

9 Pragmatic Steps for World Leaders to Deliver the Low-Carbon Economy

An image of North America from low-orbiting satellite Suomi NPP.

Endnotes and citations are available in the PDF and Scribd versions.

In 2015, the international community will set a new trajectory for global climate cooperation over the next decade. Presidents and prime ministers will meet several times in the coming months at summits in New York, Paris, and elsewhere to share their respective domestic climate action plans and shape a new global climate agreement. Science dictates that nations pursue urgent and ambitious action.

However, the politics of climate action, both at home and abroad, remain challenging for many world leaders. In an effort to raise climate ambition—or how hard nations are working to promote climate solutions—this report identifies nine pragmatic and politically feasible measures that are available to world leaders to create a low-carbon economy.

Fortunately, just a handful of reasonable emissions-mitigation actions and policies implemented internationally between now and 2030 would put the world fully on a path toward climate protection using existing technologies and without meaningfully reducing economic growth. Success in adopting these policies will depend primarily on domestic politics, but sensible international cooperation has an important role to play too. Because international cooperation takes time and builds incrementally, nations must chart a new course without delay. To start moving in the right direction at the global level, world leaders should take the following pragmatic steps by the end of 2015:

  1. Set a specific year by which global greenhouse gas emissions will start to decline.
  2. Reframe climate action as essential for near-term prosperity, including by building climate-related targets into new global development goals for 2030.
  3. Announce internationally ambitious, unconditional, and unilateral domestic emissions-reduction goals for 2025 or 2030.
  4. Commit to measurable goals for shared international emissions cuts and climate financing.
  5. Value carbon in all major economies by 2020.
  6. Commit to global goals for forest protection and sustainable forest management, including eliminating deforestation from global commodity trade by 2020.
  7. Amend the Montreal Protocol to phase down the production of super-polluting hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs.
  8. Set concrete, ambitious energy-efficiency goals through 2030 for power plants, vehicles, buildings, and appliances.
  9. Conclude a strong new global climate agreement by the end of 2015.

The remainder of this report explains the importance and political feasibility of these nine recommendations.

Nigel Purvis is the founder, president, and CEO of Climate Advisers.