Structural changes to slow temperature rises

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MEDIA RELEASE: The short-term effects of higher carbon prices and Covid-19 induced lockdowns have had little impact on the long-term trajectory of global temperatures, Schroders’ Climate Progress Dashboard has found. 

Global temperatures remain on course to rise by 3.9°C as of the end of June 2020, unchanged from the previous quarter and much higher than the Paris Agreement target, despite global energy demand and carbon emissions significantly decreasing due to huge reductions in road and air travel. 

While those sharp drops in activity help, structural changes are required globally to ensure this crisis proves a turning point in international commitments to sustain cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.  

For example, while the European Union has announced that up to three-quarters of the region’s Covid-19 stimulus plan will be tied to the delivery of climate targets, the global focus on climate change has slowed placing greater emphasis on the delivery of these EU commitments and their translation into economic investment. 

Launched in 2017, the Climate Progress Dashboard provides Schroders’ analysts, fund managers and clients with an insight into the progress governments and industries across the world are making towards meeting the 2°C temperature rise target set by the Paris Agreement in 2015.

Andrew Howard, Global Head of Sustainable Investment, Schroders, commented: 

“On the face of it, the Covid-19 crisis appears to have sparked a turning point in global greenhouse gas emissions. If current lockdown trajectories continue, global energy demand may fall by six per cent and carbon emissions by eight per cent, according to data from the International Energy Agency. 

“However, there is also an unprecedented economic cost. The International Monetary Fund has predicted the global economy could shrink by as much as five per cent this year. It has revealed unemployment levels have already reached the highest levels seen in at least half a century. 

“We believe that as economies recover from the Covid-19 crisis, falls in emissions are likely to be reversed, if recoveries from past crises provide any guide. Tougher structural changes are needed if we are going to avert the equally devastating long-term impacts of the climate crisis.”

The dashboard uses a framework of 12 indicators spanning politics, business, technology and energy. By focusing on longer-term indicators of progress and action, it provides a relatively stable view of the long-run temperature rise the world currently faces.

Summary of changes

The chart below plots the changes in each indicator relative to the last update (Q1 2020)

The chart below plots changes in each indicator since Schroders launched the Climate Progress Dashboard in mid-2017.