That’s the general conclusion reached by DNV GL as it projects out to 2050 and stops at 2030 to look back at where it came and to where it must go.
The ideal goal is to keep temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050, says Bjorn Haugland, chief sustainability officer of DNV GL, which authored a report based on UN objectives and with the input of several major companies. The most likely scenario, he adds, is that temperatures will rise 2.5 degrees Celsius by mid century — above the 2.0 degree threshold set in Paris last December at the COP 21 climate accords.
Anything greater than 2 degrees Celsius, according to the Paris accord, means more extreme weather events and harsher conditions, like droughts — and “a lot of instability,” says Haugland, in a phone interview with Environmental Leader.
“I don’t think the goals are too ambitious,” he adds. “Humanity can solve them. We see a lot enthusiasm and a lot of activity to solve them.”
The evaluation is based on the UN Global Compact Sustainable Development Goals, which include: no poverty, zero hunger, good health, quality education, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, economic growth and reduced inequality. Because of the lofty nature of some of the objectives, the aims overall are falling short. But some of the objectives — such as the transition to clean and carbon reductions — are moving along, albeit not as fast as the report would like.
Among the companies working to meet the UN’s mission: Tata, Iberdrola, Symantec, Siemens and Unilever.
One of the most conspicuous hurdles is that the developing world needs to industrialize and has relied on coal-fired electricity to reach its growth targets. But they will be using it much less than they have been, says Haugland. That’s because the air quality in such countries as India and China is so bad that it is inhibiting future economic expansion — and that burning more coal would only make things worse.
Electricity is the fundamental building block to economic prosperity. The objective is then to ensure access, abundance and cleanliness. It’s about diversifying energy resources and making certain that all nations have the means to buy the most energy-efficient technologies.
Economics demand it. But public incentives encourage it. With modern technologies and good policies, entrepreneurs will smell opportunity and the goals as outlined by the UN will be closer to reality.
“What is astonishing is that countries, both rich and poor, have committed publicly, to put in hundreds of gigawatts of renewable energy,” says Jeremy Oppenheim, program director for the New Climate Economy project, in an interview with this reporter. “This opens the door to a real coalition of public and private players.”
UN Global Compact Sustainable Development Goals
1. No poverty
2. Zero hunger
3. Good health and well-being
4. Quality education
5. Gender equality
6. Clean water and sanitation
7. Affordable and clean energy
8. Decent work and economic growth
9. Industry, innovation and infrastructure
10. Reduced inequality
11. Sustainable cities and communities
12. Responsible consumption and production
13. Climate action
14. Life below water
15. Life on land
16. Peace, justice and strong institutions
17. Partnerships for the goals