Two important climate summits are coming up as we near the end of 2021. The first, on September 24, will be the first in 40 years to focus specifically on energy. The second, the COP26, will run the first two weeks of November and aims to mobilize countries to step up their climate commitments as well as assess their progress since the 2015 Paris climate agreement. The primary goals of these summits will be to curb the emissions of developed countries while ensuring that developing nations build sustainably. Unfortunately, most countries have fallen short of their Paris goals, but Fast Company climate experts Morgan Bazilian and Dolf Gielen have identified four ways in which these summits can achieve the most efficient climate action.
Scale up carbon pricing
Carbon markets are difficult to track and regulate, and in most countries, the cost of carbon is too low to actually push companies to cut their emissions. Improving carbon market transparency and establishing rules on the use of carbon offsets will help ensure that these measures are actually effective in reducing emissions and push the private sector to decarbonize.
Look at “hard-to-decarbonize” sectors
Large industries without affordable replacements for fossil fuels are some of the hardest to decarbonize. These include essential sectors like shipping, cement, and road freight which have limited options for cutting emissions without slowing output altogether. Scaling up solutions in these sectors as well as establishing emission levies on products similar to those produced domestically would push progress in these industries.
Collaborate with emerging economies
Developed countries are responsible for the bulk of the world’s carbon emissions, but we must also shift our attention to emerging economies to ensure their development is sustainable from the start. China, for example, consumes half of the world’s coal and hosts over a thousand coal plants, half of which are less than a decade old. Collaborating with China as well as other emerging economies like India, Indonesia, and Vietnam will ensure that the global shift towards green energy is indeed global.
Focus on innovation
Innovative thinking in the sustainability sector brought us efficient wind turbines, affordable solar technology, and ingenious geothermal strategies. Continued support for the institutions which produce these technologies in the form of social acceptance, equity, and regulatory frameworks will help expand sustainable innovation and ensure these technologies are accepted and adopted throughout society. For example, while communities which previously relied on fossil fuel jobs may be hesitant to accept a renewable future, investing in job training for those individuals as well as demonstrating the grid reliability that can be achieved with localized renewable sources will help ensure that the technology is not only available but supported and scaled up within the communities it serves.