Taking action to stay within 1.5ºC

Transforming the global energy system

to combat climate change

Who can help to speed up green action and how?

Limiting catastrophic climate change requires action at all levels of society, from governments and companies to investors and individuals. While each of us can and must make changes in our daily lives to limit our consumption of carbon-intensive goods and services, such changes alone will not be sufficient to halt runaway climate change. 73% of global emissions come from the energy sector because 80% of global energy supply comes from fossil fuels. To reduce global emissions at the rate required by science, we need our energy systems to shift from a reliance on fossil fuels to using renewable, green energy. To effectively tackle climate change, we must transform the global energy system fossil fuel-based energy to renewable energy.

We all have a role to play:

Energy companies

  • Invest more in the build-out of green energy
  • Phase out coal-fired power plants faster
  • Innovate and scale new technologies to support an entirely green energy system


  • Make ambitious energy and decarbonisation plans aligned with the 1.5°C target
  • Speed up the phase-out of coal-fired power plants
  • Accelerate the build-out of green energy
  • Pursue faster green electrification to help decarbonise transport, buildings, and industry
  • introduce policies to boost energy efficiency across sectors



  • Buy green power from green energy companies
  • Reduce emissions from production, feedstocks, and throughout the supply chain
  • Cut emissions to what is required to limit global warming to 1.5°C


  • Shift capital to ESG investmentsCitation Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria are an increasingly popular way for investors to evaluate companies in which they might want to invest.
  • Ask companies to reduce their emissions in line with what is required by science
  • Integrate climate-related disclosure in reporting



  • Demand policies that keep global warming below 1.5°C
  • Buy green power
  • Choose sustainable products and services from green companies
  • Invest in companies and pension funds that are aligned with the 1.5°C target
  • Choose sustainable modes of transportation and make sure your home is energy efficient


We realise that these are not easy actions to take. They all require transformational change that profoundly challenges the way that the economy, businesses and investors operate today. But it is worth keeping in mind that the main barriers to speeding up the transition to green energy are not lack of mature or cost-effective solutions, or that limiting global warming to 1.5°C will leave society worse off financially. On the contrary, the barriers to taking the necessary action comes from the inclination of humans to use a short-term rather than a long-term perspective.

The way forward

Replacing fossil fuels with green energy is the single most important lever to put us on a path to halving global emissions by 2030 and reaching net zero emissions by 2050, thereby limiting global warming to 1.5°C. To that end, the global use of energy will need to be held in check by increased energy efficiency. Green electricity is expected to emerge as the main carrier of energy, potentially moving from a 20% to a 50% share of the global energy supply. This means that transforming the power sector from fossil fuel-based energy to renewable energy will help drive down emissions across the entire energy system through green electrification of transportation, buildings and industry.

Solar, onshore, and offshore wind energy can provide the backbone of the future decarbonised energy system if they are scaled up globally as all three technologies are mature and cost competitive due to remarkable cost reductions in recent years.

A much higher penetration of variable power from solar and wind energy will pose challenges in terms of maintaining a stable energy supply, but it should not stop countries from pushing ahead and building out green energy at a much higher speed than today. For many countries there is plenty of room for building out green power before intermittency becomes a challenge, and when that does happen, cost-competitive technologies exist that can be deployed to balance supply and demand in the power system.

Today, we already have the solutions at our disposal to limit global warming to  1.5ºC

To reach a totally green power system will, however, require additional balancing technologies such as batteries and hydrogen. These technologies are expected to experience further significant cost reductions in the years to come. Valuable lessons can be learned from the cost reduction journey of solar and wind power on how to harness the power of scale to deploy these technologies globally and help mature and reduce the cost of emerging technologies such as batteries and hydrogen. Governments need to set ambitious and clear targets with appropriate long term policies that enable the energy industry to invest in and expand the scale of green technologies. Greater volume leads to more learning, and with that innovation costs are reduced.

Today, we already have the solutions at our disposal to limit global warming to 1.5°C. They are cost-effective or can be made so with the right public policy approach. If we deploy them, we will not only see benefits for the climate and our planet, but also for our society and the economy. What is needed now is to speed up the deployment of green technologies.

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