Flooding in Pemba, Mozambique.

Climate breakdown

The world is facing catastrophic climate breakdown. To limit global temperature rises to the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement, we must protect climate-critical forests, phase out fossil fuels and ensure a fair transition to clean energy. Read more

At the Paris UN climate talks in 2015, the world agreed to limit global warming to well below 2°C  above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. Failure to keep to this target will mean more extreme and unpredictable weather, species extinctions, food and water shortages, and sea level rises. All of this will continue to hit the poorest hardest.

Yet as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report published in late 2018 showed, the world has already warmed by 1°C. To avoid climate breakdown, global emissions need to halve in little over a decade. We are facing a climate emergency - and governments, companies and investors need to act now.

Firstly, on fossil fuels. Coal’s contribution to deadly air pollution and carbon emissions is well known. Through a global coalition, we have been calling on major banks to end all financing for coal. In particular, we targeted HSBC and Standard Chartered who announced plans to finance highly-polluting new coal-fired plants in Indonesia and Vietnam despite publicly supporting the Paris agreement. We have already been successful in getting Standard Chartered to change its policy, piling on the pressure for HSBC and others to follow suit. 

Meanwhile, our series of investigations into Indonesia’s shifting coal money highlights the many risks - other than to the climate - for those who make the controversial decision to invest in the Indonesian coal industry, one of only a few around the world with large scale power plant expansion plans.

When it comes to oil and gas, our research has shown that production from existing fields alone is more than we can afford to burn if we are to meet the Paris target. Yet the industry is set to spend $4.9 trillion over the next ten years on exploration and extraction in new fields. We are advocating for oil and gas companies’ plans to be aligned with the 1.5°C goal, which means leaving those new reserves in the ground. 

In the UK we are campaigning for a managed phase-out of oil and gas production through an end to domestic subsidies, a fair transition away from North Sea oil and gas production, and a halt to support for production internationally via UK export finance. We support calls for a global phase out, and have signed the Lofoten declaration affirming the moral obligation of wealthy fossil fuel producing countries to take the lead on this.

Another crucial way we are helping to avert a climate crisis is by safeguarding the tropical forests which act as a carbon sink for emissions, through our investigations into the illegal timber trade and the financing of forest destruction in the Congo basin, Amazon and Asia-Pacific. These climate-critical forests are under threat not only from logging, but other destructive industries such as agribusiness and mining too - often working hand-in-hand with governments. Communities who have traditionally stewarded and are on the frontline of defence for these vital ecosystems are being violently silenced

Both governments and investors are key to ensuring the protection of the forests and those who defend them - and we have successfully advocated for stronger EU requirements on investors not to fund environmental or other harms, a move backed by several major players.

Finally, we want to see that any transition to a low-carbon economy works for all. From fossil fuel industry workers whose livelihoods must be secured to communities whose land and rivers are earmarked for renewable energy projects, their voices must be heard. The trade in resources essential for transition to a low carbon economy, such as those used in the manufacture of electric batteries, must also take place with respect for human rights and the environment.