Make the 2020s the decade of action on climate change - to avoid the muddle in the middle


Last week saw the finale of COP 25 with no new ambition and little progress. It is now 25 times that global leaders have sat down together and 25 times that we, as a global community, have failed to agree a clear meaningful action plan to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change

Looking ahead to the new year and the new decade, we wanted to share why it is critical that an action-plan for climate change is agreed to avoid the scenario we call ‘muddle in the middle’.

Climate change scenarios typically follow two pathways:

Scenario 1: Rapid action = Climate change mitigation

Assumes society acts rapidly to limit greenhouse gas emissions e.g. through shifts to renewable energy, carbon pricing and halting deforestation. With the result that global warming is limited to 1.5/2°C by 2100. In this scenario businesses face ‘transition costs’ e.g. investment in renewable energy but face no significant physical impact costs

Scenario 2: Insufficient action = climate change stagnation

Assumes climate policy is less ambitious and emissions remain high and global warming is limited to 4°C by 2100. In this scenario business face the costs associated with physical impacts e.g. water stress, droughts and floods, but assumes no significant transition impact costs

But we believe there is a third climate scenarios that is failing to be considered – ‘The Muddle in the Middle’ scenario.

Scenario 3: Indecisive action = (even more) expensive climate change stagnation

This is when significant investments are made to limit climate change below 2oC, BUT, due to a lack of clarity and consensus over what is the right action to take, we still end up with global temperature increases of 4oC by 2100. This scenario is the worst of both worlds with business facing the double cost of (unsuccessful) transition and physical impact costs.

Action checklist of 10 ambitious ideas

Here’s an action checklist of 10 ambitious ideas for you and your business so the 2020s can go down in history as the decade of real climate change action

  1. Everyone must invest in energy efficiency and conservation - to reduce demand for energy

  2. 100% low-carbon energy production - and batteries to store it

  3. Extensive electrification - particularly of transport and heating

  4. Public transport – make it the easiest and cheapest way to get around

  5. A hydrogen economy – for energy-intensive industries e.g. long-distance HGVs and ships

  6. Regenerative farming – to restore healthy carbon-rich soils and support a new generation of farmers

  7. Plant lots and lots of trees – and responsible forestry around the world

  8. Scale up carbon capture and storage – in various different formats to take CO2 out of the air

  9. Circular economy – make the ridiculous ‘take, make, discard’ model a relic of this decade

  10. Finally, the big one. We must start at home with our own impact. For 2020, we are asking that everyone make one ‘New Decade - Carbon Resolution’ to reduce their own individual carbon footprint whether that is linked to what we eat, how we go on holiday or what we buy.

As Greta Thunberg reminds us ‘we need to act as if the house is on fire, because it is'.

On that, hopefully positive, note we wish everyone a very happy festive break and an exciting low-carbon 2020!

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