As the Paris agreement comes into force since the signing of the EU and its membership countries, a reminder for governments could be at place. Radical change is needed in order to reach the goal of no more than 2°C of global warming, and especially so the aspiration of 1,5°C.
At the same time as the ratification of the Paris agreement was met with big applause in Brussels, governments around the world are making decisions supporting fossile fuels. In fact, some experts state that in order to reach the 2°C goal no new sources of fossile fuels can be utilized - even the ones already active are enough to go past the 2°C mark and 15% of those need to remain unused. In a global market where 14 trillion USD are to be invested in fossile fuel extraction and transport during the coming 20 years, one cannot be blamed for being worried about politicians' commitments to the Paris agreement. This worry was bluntly described by the Guardian journalist George Monbiot:
"Do they understand what they have signed? Plainly they do not. Governments now ratifying the Paris agreement haven't the faintest idea what it means - either that or they have no intention of honoring it"
An example from Sweden is the case of the state-owned company Vattenfall and its contradictory decision – selling the coal mines instead of shutting them down, despite massive negative effects on climate. Another government that has been seen as progressive in the environmental area Canada, with PM Trudeau releasing an ambitious road map, setting goals and measuring impact. Given his strong commitment, some Canadian environmentalists felt a bitter-sweet taste when their government recently approved a natural gas pipeline through a national park, creating jobs but endangering both the local fauna and the global climate.
However, all is not dark. Inspiring examples on good practices come from Germany where now 7 % of electricity comes from solar power, and in Spain where close to 50 % of power comes from renewable sources. Despite this, even these governments will have to fight hard to stay within agreed upon boundaries. There is a great risk of the world being too dependent on CO capturing techniques, and these has not yet proven as efficient as needed.
But when governments fail, companies has a unique opportunity in taking the lead themselves, through innovation and investments in products and services that will take us closer to reaching the 2°C goal.