Historical medieval astronomical clock in Old Town Square in Prague, Czech Republic

Earth Day for a Decade

As we enter the decisive decade for the climate crisis, every effort to reduce emissions matters. That is why on this Earth Day 2021 we are calling for every day to be a day of action, for the next decade and beyond. We know that emissions must be reduced 50% by 2030 and hit net zero by 2050 at the latest for a chance of limiting global heating to 1.5 degrees. For every fraction of a degree warmer, we face increasingly more dangerous impacts that are largely irreversible for hundreds to thousands of years to come. Taking action on climate is a timed test that we do not get to take more than once.

We are already seeing dangerous impacts from the climate crisis, growing worse every year. In just the last year alone, we have seen devastating fires, floods, droughts, and storms. From winter ice and snow cutting power to millions of people across the United States, Canada and Mexico, to deadly wildfires raging across Australia and even Siberia, people around the world are suffering as the damage continues to increase. Adding to this, for over a year now, the COVID pandemic has given us all additional understanding of the fragile nature of life. We cannot continue with the destruction of the delicate climate system that sustains us all.

Certainly, the best time to take action was decades ago, when climate scientists began warning global leaders of the risks. The second-best time is now, without another moment of delay. At RMI all of our work is focused on tangible outcomes in the real economy that will achieve the emissions reductions this challenge demands. In the past few months we have launched several new important efforts including:

  • The Mission Possible Partnership, to drive decarbonization in seven hard-to-abate sectors including shipping, aviation, steel, and cement
  • Third Derivative, to accelerate innovation across global energy systems, working with almost 50 startups and nearly 20 corporate partners and investors
  • Canary Media, with staff from Greentech Media and other leading energy journalists, to raise global awareness of the climate crisis and the clean energy transition
  • The Crypto Climate Accord, to decarbonize crypto currencies as they claim a growing role in global finance
  • MiQ, to facilitate rapid reduction in methane emissions from the oil and gas sector
  • The Green Hydrogen Catapult, to accelerate deployment of 25 GW of green hydrogen by 2026 and drive the cost down to below $2 per kilogram
  • Run on Less Electric, to showcase ten real-world electric truck demonstrations
  • The Center for Climate Aligned Finance, to drive large banks towards portfolios that are aligned with the Paris Agreement
  • The Climate Finance Access Network, to support developing countries in securing and structuring finance for climate investments
  • Climate TRACE, to track real-time emissions globally

These are just 10 examples of how we are working to accelerate decarbonization across the global economy, building on our efforts of the last 40 years. We believe that the next 10 years will see an explosion of progress, as awareness of the crisis grows and solutions scale along exponential growth curves. Wind and solar are already the cheapest sources of electricity in most places on Earth, and the cost curves for batteries continue to plummet.

Building on a decarbonized electricity system, we must electrify all other sectors of the economy, including mobility, buildings, and industry. In many of these areas, we have the solutions we need, from electric vehicles to efficient heat pumps and cooling systems. But there is still an ongoing need for technology development and greater efficiency to rise to the pace demanded by the physics of warming. Indeed, next week we will be announcing the final winners of the Global Cooling Prize, demonstrating air conditioning units that have five times lower climate impact than existing technologies. Our task now is to deploy these solutions as quickly as possible, at massive scale. Turnover from high carbon assets to low carbon solutions must be accelerated.

In some industries, such as shipping, aviation, cement, and steel, the general framework for decarbonization is known to include technologies such as green hydrogen, but the pathways to deployment vary across sectors. This is why the Mission Possible Partnership focuses on developing these pathways for each industry, to drive alignment across the entire global economy. We will announce significant progress in several of these key sectors at the upcoming COP26 in Glasgow.

We need everyone, everywhere, to do everything possible over the coming decade to drive decarbonization. As Greta Thunberg says, everyone is needed, and everyone is welcome. We are in the race of our lives and winning slowly is the same as losing. Let’s make every day Earth Day for the next ten years, and beyond.