The Net-Zero club is rising but we need to do much more to address the climate emergency

Asha Bajaj
3 min readDec 15, 2020


#UNEP; #ClimateEmergency; #ParisAgreement; #EmissionGap; #COVID19pandemic; #EconomicSlowdown; #GlobalClimateAmbitionSummit

Speech delivered at the media launch of UNEP’s Emissions Gap 2020.

UNEP/Canadian-Media: It has been five years since the world adopted the Paris Agreement. But, as UNEP’s new Emissions Gap Report shows, we have made little progress on what we hoped, and still, hope will be a game-changing global deal for the climate.

Image credit: Twitter handle

We are already in trouble. Last year saw a new record high in greenhouse gas emissions. This year is on course to become one of the warmest on record, storms and droughts are intensifying, and glaciers are melting quicker. Even worse, we are still heading for at least a 3°C temperature rise this century. This would bring pain, misery, and disruption that eclipses everything the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown at us.

The pandemic-linked economic slowdown is not going to make a real difference. We can expect a drop of up to 7 percent of carbon dioxide emissions this year. This translates to only a 0.01°C reduction of global warming by 2050. But a green recovery post-COVID-19 can get us back on track. The report finds that a green recovery could cut up to 25 percent off the emissions we would expect to see in 2030 if we continue with current policies. This would bring 2030 emissions roughly in line with levels that give us a good chance of reaching the 2°C goals of the Paris Agreement. But much more is needed to reach the 1.5°C goals.

The report lays out many ways to deliver emissions reductions: from direct support for zero-emissions technologies and infrastructure to backing nature-based solutions and policies that enable lower-carbon consumption. So far, only around one-quarter of G20 members have dedicated some spending to such measures. Unfortunately, most spending has backed the status quo. This has to change rapidly.

The growing number of countries now committing to net-zero targets is encouraging. But they need to be urgently translated into strong, near-term policies and actions, and be reflected in the updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) ahead of the next climate summit in Glasgow. By investing in a green recovery to get a head start, and pushing on with systemic change planned and tracked through stronger NDCs, we could hit the 2°C targets and have a real shot at the 1.5°C goals.

In a few days, the UK government and the UN will hold the Global Climate Ambition Summit. The leaders who will attend are taking bold action on COVID-19, saving many lives and bringing us closer to an exit from the pandemic. I ask them to similarly take bold action on the climate now when the world needs it the most.

Thank you.

Inger Andersen

Executive Director

First appeared in UNEP.



Asha Bajaj

I write on national and international Health, Politics, Business, Education, Environment, Biodiversity, Science, First Nations, Humanitarian, gender, women