Foresight

Climate Progress Dashboard: long-term temperature rise drops again to 3.3°C


The latest reading of the Climate Progress Dashboard points to a long-run temperature rise of 3.3 degrees over pre-industrial levels, down just slightly from 3.4 degrees in our previous update. 

The dashboard consistently gives a more alarming result than other forecasters do. This is because of the misalignment between intent and action. Political targets and aspirations are relatively aggressive but policies to deliver those targets are less developed and less audacious. There’s even less actual action being undertaken to meet these targets and aspirations. 

The positive momentum since our last update has been driven by the oil and gas sector’s continued curtailing of investment in new capacity, voluntarily or otherwise. 

Oil and gas investment falling

This component of the dashboard assesses the global, listed sector’s investment in growth (capital expenditures, capex), relative to its asset base. That ratio yields an indication of the pace of capacity growth the industry is on track to deliver in the future.

Essentially we deduct our estimate of the expected decline in production of existing assets from that gross growth estimate to gauge the pace of new production growth implied by industry investment.

By comparing the rate of production growth to the rates implied under different climate scenarios plotted by the International Energy Agency, we can measure the long-run temperature rise implied by the industry’s production growth plans.

But will the oil and gas industry be tempted by rallying oil prices?

In previous updates, we have questioned whether the industry would be able to resist the temptation to raise investment as oil prices rally. 

To date, the evidence looks encouraging. Industry-wide investment in new capacity has continued to slide. Fossil fuel producers are in the cross hairs of climate campaigners and policymakers, as are the financial services companies that provide capital to them. That constraint has been the major driver of the lower long-run temperature rise implied by climate action since our last update.

Global-oil-and-gas-capex-v-brent.png

What’s changed for political action and carbon prices?

Political action and carbon prices have also moved in the right direction. 

The increased level of political ambition reflects the ratcheting up of climate commitments in the run up to, and during, COP26, the UN’s annual climate conference. India established a net zero target, albeit its pace is contingent on developed economies providing capital to emerging counterparts to ease and facilitate that transition. 

Carbon prices in Europe continue to reach new records, having proven resilient through the Covid crisis while also benefiting from a nascent re-opening. 

Progress is slow

While COP26 provided neither the step forward we had hoped for, nor the setback we’d feared, progress toward the goals agreed in Paris in 2015 continues slowly. 

There is much further to go to align the actions we see across all of the stakeholders, industries and social groups that will play key roles in driving decarbonisation.

Summary of changes since last update

The chart below plots the changes in each indicator relative to the last update (July 2021).

Changes-in-temp-since-last-update.png

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

Changes-in-temp-since-inception.png

We developed our Climate Progress Dashboard (CPD) in 2017 to provide an objective measure of the long-term temperature rises implied by changes to the various levers global policymakers and companies can pull to tackle climate change.

The CPD tracks the rate of progress toward the commitments global leaders made in Paris in 2015 through examining areas from political ambition to renewable capacity.

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