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Getting to Net-Zero Emissions

At a certain point, renewables will be so cheap, effective, and reliable that fossil fuels will no longer make logistical or economic sense. But, while that point may come sooner than one might expect, it will not come soon enough, unless governments act – beginning at the G20 summit in Osaka.

POTSDAM – The leaders of the G20 countries head to Osaka this week for their annual summit. United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres will address them before traveling to Abu Dhabi to finalize the arrangements for September’s UN Climate Action Summit. These meetings should set the world on course for the fastest economic transition in history. Yet both are likely to deliver incremental action, at best.

Consider the G20 summit, where the agenda includes using “breakthrough innovation” – such as carbon capture, utilization, and storage technologies – to accelerate “a virtuous cycle of environment and growth.” As laudable as this goal may be, these solutions will reach scale only around 2030, or even later. Moreover, while they are an essential insurance policy, these technological fixes are a small part of a more profound transition.

The reality is that the agenda for both meetings must put the world on course to halve greenhouse-gas emissions within the next decade to avert the most catastrophic effects of climate change. This means deploying market-ready, scalable solutions now, and that will require bold governmental action.

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