United States President Joe Biden's recent climate summit generated much-needed headlines and focused attention on the urgency to tackle climate change even if the coronavirus pandemic continues to top most governments' agendas. The US, Japan and Canada announced more ambitious plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions, on top of recent commitments by the European Union, China and others. The upshot: The outlook for the world is a little less cloudy. The commitments mean the world will warm by 2.4 deg C by the century's end - a reduction of 0.2 degree from previous forecasts, according to an analysis by Climate Action Tracker. While that still leaves the world in the danger zone in terms of more extreme weather, faster melting of ice caps and rising sea levels, the revised figure is much improved from the previously hazardous 3 deg C trajectory. To bring the world back from the brink of a climate emergency, greenhouse gas emissions need to fall swiftly this decade.
More nations need to pledge deeper emissions cuts and more money is needed to green the global economy, especially from wealthier countries. The path to relative safety is meeting the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement goals of limiting warming to well below 2 deg C above pre-industrial levels, and ideally to aim for 1.5 deg C. The world is already at 1.1 deg C, so there is no time to waste. Despite daunting economic challenges, this is also a time of opportunities to re-imagine economies and lifestyles.