Krista Kurth, Ph.D.
Why I Appreciate Recent Global Climate Commitments Even Though They’re Not Enough
Eight Global Climate Actions to Appreciate and Build On in 2022 and Beyond
Although the slew of recent global meetings this year hasn’t produced enough significant climate commitments, I’m still applauding the progress the world is making.
Many climate activists and the most vulnerable countries are rightfully upset with the outcomes of COP26. After all the climate announcements and negotiations, the UNEP estimates that the current 2030 and net-zero emission pledges will only cap temperatures at around 2.5°C by 2100. WRI’s experts say that some commitments are “so weak (particularly those from Australia, China, Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Russia) that they don’t offer credible pathways to achieve their net-zero targets, indicating a major ‘credibility gap’.” The rich nations are also still falling short on their $100 billion annual climate finance commitment to support developing and vulnerable countries in taking climate action.
With news like this and others in this article, I could easily get caught up in focusing on what’s wrong and what’s not happening that needs to happen. However, I am consciously choosing to focus on what’s going well. I’m intentionally applying some of the principles of Appreciative Inquiry to the current climate situation.
What is Appreciative Inquiry?
Appreciative Inquiry (AI), created by David Cooperriderand Suresh Srivastva, is a philosophically positive approach that is used for creating forward momentum on large-scale change. They believe that:
Words create worlds. We socially create reality through conversation.
When we ask a question, we create change.
What we choose to focus on makes a difference. Where we focus, that is where our energy goes.
Vision inspires action. Positive visions of the future move us to take more and positive present-day action.
Positive questions lead to positive change. Large-scale change requires considerable amounts of positive affect and social bonding. This momentum is best engendered through positive questions that amplify what is working, which we can then build on.
The AI process also has 4 key steps:
Exploring and appreciating the best of what is.
Envisioning what is possible.
Designing what should be.
Implementing what will be.
Ideally, representatives from the entire system come together to engage in these four steps. Since I cannot make that happen here, I’ll appreciate on my own what I think are some positive climate action outcomes and envision the commitments ramping up and being fully implemented.
I encourage you to join me. After reading my list, create your own and see if and how it inspires your action. If enough of us do this, then I believe we will help make the change that is needed.
Eight Global Climate Actions I Appreciate.
Global climate meetings this year produced the most progress to date on addressing the climate crisis. Here are outcomes I truly appreciate (not a comprehensive list of positive outcomes, and not in order of priority or impact). I appreciate:
1. Global delegates at COP26 recognizing the urgency of the climate crisis and the need to close the gap to 1.5°C, which led them to agree to submit stronger 2030 targets in 2022, as well as long-term climate strategies.
2. The COP26 delegates holding rich countries’ feet to the fire; insisting they must fulfill the $100 billion annual climate finance commitment as soon as possible, agreeing to develop a larger climate finance goal for 2025 and beyond, and promising $40 billion for climate adaptation by 2025.
3. 110 countries pledging to take voluntary actions to reduce global methane emissions collectively by at least 30% by 2030. Decreasing the impact of methane now is the single most effective strategy (albeit not sufficient by itself) for limiting warming to 1.5°C.
4. 141 countries, covering 90.94% of forests worldwide, committing to “working collectively to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030 while delivering sustainable development and promoting an inclusive rural transformation.”
5. Over 450 members of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net-Zero(GFANZ) coming together to speed up the transition to a net-zero global economy by “broadening, deepening and raising net-zero ambitions across the financial system and demonstrating firms’ collective commitments to supporting companies and countries to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.” These financial firms represent over $130 trillion across 45 countries.
6. The hundreds of thousands of youths, and other activists, continuing to demand climate action now. The climate movement is making a difference, not only in Glasgow but around the world.
7. The Biden Administration’s and Congress’ persistent efforts to pass the recent Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which provide billions of dollars for electric school buses, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, transit systems, natural climate solutions, and a resilient power grid. Since the U.S. is one of the world’s largest GHG emitters, this bill, when implemented, is an important step toward delivering on the country’s climate commitments.
8. The Biden Administration’s and U.S. House of Representatives’ efforts to draft and pass the Build Back Better Act, that includes $555 billion in climate change investments. When passed, this will be the largest climate package ever in the U.S.
What would you add to this list?
Eight Future Global Climate Outcomes I Envision
Now is the time to turn words into action and hold countries accountable for following through. Below I envision the outcomes that rise from the world taking radical climate action. I have written each of them as if they have already come true.
1. All countries, especially the ones contributing the most to GHG emissions like Russia, India, China, and the U.S., came to COP27 in 2022 and put forward ambitious just transition targets and specific plans that close the gap to 1.5°C and achieve net-zero near mid-century. The world committed to stop funding all fossil fuel projects and end subsidies by 2023 and phase out use of fossil fuels by 2035.
2. Developed countries fulfilled their $100 billion climate finance goal in 2022 and the three years following, as well as established a 2025 and beyond annual goal of at least $250 billion for climate finance. They also provided adaptation finance of at least $40 billion annually by 2025.
3. Over 110 countries, led by China and the US, made significant enough progress on reducing global methane emissions that they reduced emissions by 50% by 2030.
4. Countries representing 100% of global forest coverage, led by Brazil, worked together to create robust forests and healthy land reserves, while delivering sustainable development and promoting an inclusive rural transformation by 2030.
5. GFANZ and the rest of the financial sector played a significant role in transitioning the world to a net-zero economy. By 2025, they ended financing of all new fossil fuel extraction projects and directed trillions into a decarbonized economy. They catalyzed alignment on industry pathways to net-zero, accelerated decarbonization by supporting credible transition plans and best practices, mobilized private capital in developing countries for a just transition, advocated for net-zero investing public policing, and built commitment to net-zero in the finance industry.
6. Youth activists and climate campaigners kept up the pressure on politicians and corporations to address the climate crisis now. They succeeded in all their lawsuits, resulting in more rapid implementation of climate plans. They also stopped the money pipeline for new financing of fossil fuel projects, starving the industry of capital.
7. Climate activists in the U.S. mobilized enough people in the 2022 mid-term elections to elect pro-climate Senators and Representatives who will insist on action, regardless of which party controls Congress.
8. The Biden Administration negotiated a strong version of the Build Back Better Act that both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives passed by Martin Luther King Day 2022 and developed a 1.5 degree-aligned plan, with accompanying policies in place, to cut emissions in half by 2030.
What additional climate progress do you envision?
I’d love to know what you appreciate and envision happening in the next few years around climate action.
Thanks for all you do.