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WRI State of Climate Action 2021 report just launched-Climate finance needs to increase thirteen times faster to meet the estimated $5 trillion needed annually by 2030

Combatting the climate crisis requires us to rapidly transform the systems that propel our economy, including power generation, buildings, industry, transport, land use, and agriculture—as well as scaling up carbon removal technologies. But by how much? And how can decision-makers unlock the transformational change that is required?

The State of Climate Action 2021 report, published today as part of the Systems Change Lab, answers these fundamental questions. The report – a joint effort among the High-Level Climate Champions, Climate Action Tracker, ClimateWorks Foundation, the Bezos Earth Fund, and World Resources Institute – identifies 40 indicators across key sectors that must rapidly transform to address the climate crisis and assesses how current trends align with what is needed by 2030 and 2050. It also outlines the required shifts in supportive policies, innovations, strong institutions, leadership and social norms to unlock change.

The report highlights a number of very encouraging examples of progress. For example, wind and solar power have experienced exponential growth over the past two decades, and sales of electric vehicles have increased rapidly since 2015. Time and time again, the exponential growth of such innovations have outpaced analysts’ projections.

Yet the hard truth is that despite these bright spots, none of the 40 indicators assessed are making enough progress for the world to cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030 and fully decarbonize by mid-century, which are both necessary to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C. For example, to get on track for the emission cuts and carbon removal required by 2030 the world needs to:

  • Phase out unabated coal in electricity generation 5 times faster;
  • Accelerate the increase in annual gross tree cover gain 3 times faster;
  • ​Increase the share of low-emission fuels 12 times faster; and
  • Restore coastal wetlands nearly 3 times faster.

Such rapid transformations will require significant financial investments, technology transfer and capacity-building, especially for developing countries. While climate finance continues to increase, it too has been far from sufficient: the report finds that climate finance needs to increase thirteen times faster to meet the estimated $5 trillion needed annually by 2030. The good news is that the economic and social dividends from taking bold climate action are enormous.

As we head into COP26, the State of Climate Action 2021 arms countries, businesses, philanthropy and others with a clear-eyed view on the state of systems transformation for climate action and what supportive measures leaders can adopt to get us there. Knowledge is power, even when it is a rude awakening. Leaders should use these insights to propel us toward a safer, prosperous and more equitable future. 

This report from the Systems Change Lab is a joint effort of the High-Level Climate Champions, Climate Action Tracker (CAT, an independent analytic group comprising Climate Analytics and the NewClimate Institute), ClimateWorks Foundation, the Bezos Earth Fund, and World Resources Institute.

Further reading 

CHAPTER 8. Land Use and Costal Zone management (p.127) 

Peatlands are a type of wetland made up of accumulated organic matter that serve as a significant carbon sink. While peatlands cover only 3 percent of the global land surface across boreal, temperate, and tropical climates (roughly 380–460 Mha), they store more carbon than the global forest biomass. 

Chapter: Agriculture page 151

With increasing global demand for food, feed, and fiber, large-scale reductions in deforestation and increases in reforestation will only be possible if the world greatly improves the efficiency of land use. This will require increasing crop yields, as well as meat and milk output per hectare of pasture, at higher than historical rates, while protecting soil health and freshwater resources.

Across the board, the agricultural sector will also need to reduce emissions from each of its key sources, including from
livestock, fertilizers, rice production, and energy use. At the same time, given the scope of the challenge, it will be essential to further slow the rate of growth in food and agricultural land demand by reducing food loss and waste, shifting diets away from high levels of meat (especially beef and other ruminant meat) consumption, and avoiding further expansion of bioenergy production.

Taken together, a nearly 40 percent reduction in agricultural production emissions, coupled with carbon removals from large-scale reforestation (Land Indicator 3), could theoretically achieve a net-zero-emissions land sector by 2050, even while feeding a growing world population (Searchinger et al. 2019).

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