Mission 2020: don’t be late

2020 tipping point_mission2020

Source: Mission 2020


Monday began with a reminder that Hugh Grant hates people being late. This montage of cinematic near misses reminds us that being late can have different consequences – for our love lives, dance careers and, in some cases, our survival. It is a light-hearted introduction to a new campaign with a weighty message: we can’t afford to be late on curbing our carbon emissions.

Later that day I attended the launch of this new initiative. Mission 2020 is calling us to curb global greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 – in time to keep warming well below 2 degrees Celsius. The campaign has identified six critical milestones for attaining this peak in emissions:

six milestones_mission2020

Source: Mission 2020


Central to Mission 2020’s message is that this timeline is ‘necessary, desirable and achievable’ for the world. Let’s take those points in reverse order:

Achievable: Christiana Figueres, former UN climate change chief and convener of this new campaign, had a positive story to tell: meeting the 2020 deadline may be challenging, but we are already well on our way. Renewables already account for at least 30% of the world’s electricity supply. Nearly one in five new cars sold globally is electric. We need to accelerate this transition but it is within our grasp, according to the campaign’s new report.

Desirable: “the cost of action is less than the cost of inaction”. This, Lord Stern reminded us, was the key message of his 2006 Review on the economics of climate change. In fact, he recognised that he underestimated the benefits of decarbonising our economy. These days, the phrase ‘the cost of action’ is rarely used; instead we just talk of ‘investment’ because climate action makes good business sense.

Necessary: Human-made climate change places us in a situation that the earth has never faced, a point reiterated at the launch by Professor Joanna Haigh, Co-Director of the Grantham Institute at Imperial College. It is the poorest that are hit hardest by and the least resilient to the climatic changes which make rainfall unpredictable and floods and droughts more likely. That’s why for years Tearfund has been playing its part – and inviting you to as well – in taking action now through the Renew our World campaign on clean energy.

Limiting the warming of the planet is essential, and the world’s carbon emissions need to be on a downward trajectory by 2020 to achieve this. Mission 2020 reminds us that there is an urgency to this, but if we remain as “stubbornly optimistic” as Christiana Figueres, we won’t be late.



  1. […] Mission 2020: a new campaign spearheaded by former UN climate change chief Christiana Figueres to incentivise critical action on climate change before 2020. It was a reminder that we cannot be late in taking action on climate change. I wrote more about it here. […]

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