How effectively the United States and China can turn their economies away from fossil fuels is critical to curbing global warming, shaping global clean technology markets, and moving other major emitters – like India, Indonesia, Russia, and Brazil – to to make their contribution.
Inger Andersen, the head of the United Nations Environment Program, which published the annual emissions gap report, urged world leaders to invest their post-Covid recovery funds to help slow climate change. “
The report recommends, among other things, reducing but not eliminating fossil fuel subsidies, stopping the construction of new coal-fired power plants and restoring degraded forests.
Andrew Steer, president of the World Resources Institute, a research and advocacy group, described the trillion dollars pouring into post-pandemic economic recovery as “the greatest opportunity in history”.
“If we invest that in yesterday’s economy,” he told reporters on Wednesday, “we are basically committing a mortal sin for our grandchildren, quite frankly.”
But, as the recent United Nations report makes clear, we are not all the same, nor do we all need to do the same to protect future generations.
The richest 1 percent of the world’s population emits more than twice as much greenhouse gas as the combined share of the poorest 50 percent of the world’s population. The report concludes that the polluting rich must reduce their carbon footprint by a factor of 30 to avert the worst damage to a warming planet. The report adds that it can do this by reducing food waste, making buildings more energy efficient and using public transport instead of cars and trains instead of airplanes for short distances.
“The rich bear the greatest responsibility,” the report said.