Farhana Yamin, Founder of Track 0 This week saw the finalisation of the Synthesis for Policy Makers Report of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) [FY1] of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Known as the SPM, the Synthesis contains key conclusions the world’s leading scientists want to convey to all governments, as negotiatiors meet in Lima to intensify efforts to reach a new global agreement on climate change for adoption in December 2015. The SPM spells out the catastrophic risks of failing to act decisively to avoid exceeding the globally agreed temperature rise limit of 2C. Couched in the typical non-prescriptive language of scientists, the SPM points out that embedding the long-term goal of zero carbon emissions will raise ambition and help secure a safer planet:
“Limiting risks across reasons for concern would imply a limit for future cumulative emissions of CO2. Such a limit would require that global net emissions of CO2 eventually decrease to zero.”
This new announcement from the IPCC backs the race to a zero emissions future. The understanding that to remain below 2C means acting to achieve ‘net zero’ emissions is already inspiring a new generation of leaders across all sectors. Many of these leaders came together in September 2014 at the launch of Track 0 in New York City. The conclusion of the open discussion was clear: The ‘net zero’ goal is one we can all commit to, supported by science, with human, technical, environmental and economic wins. It provides a directional ‘how’ for avoiding the immense risk of the current emissions trajectory. Getting on track for zero emissions requires unprecedented collaboration, commitment across sectors and genuine leadership. Watch the video to see leaders from all sectors, co-convened by the Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group and Track 0, demonstrating how innovators are driving low-carbon actions, leap-frogging some of the slower ‘big players’, to be first in the race to the transformational change needed for businesses, cities, humans and ecosystems to thrive. Participating in the first of two panels l-r: Dean Bialek (Advisor to the Foreign Minister, Marshall Islands), Rachel Kyte (Vice President, The World Bank), Sandrine Dixson-Decleve (Executive Director, Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group), Christiana Figueres (Executive Secretary, UNFCCC), Farhana Yamin (Founder & CEO, Track 0), May Boeve (Executive Director, 350.org) Participating in the second panel l-r: Elizabeth Heider (CSO, Skanska USA), Nicolette Bartlett (Programme Director, Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group), George Ferguson (Mayor, The City of Bristol, EU Green City 2015), Amory Lovins (Chief Scientist & Chairman, The Rocky Mountain Institute), Edward Mazria (Founder & CEO, Architecture 2030), Harry Verhaar (Head of Global Public & Government Affairs, Phillips SA) At the recent UNFCCC negotiations in Bonn, the last meeting of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change before a draft global climate agreement is debated in December 2014 at COP 20 in Lima, Peru, discussions focused on how countries will ensure they are on track over the coming decades to keep global temperature rise under 2C. Several countries underlined the importance of a long-term vision for climate action with some voicing the need to move to climate neutrality – another term for ‘net zero’ or ‘zero net’ emissions – in the second half of the century. Surely this latest IPCC synthesis report will galvanise more countries to take a long-term view that makes sense of short-term goals.