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#STW21 - Stories to Watch 2021 | January 13, 2021

2020 was a year like no other. Instead of a big year for climate action and progress on other sustainability issues, the world was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout. As we look ahead, there are signs of hope.

We look to the big moments, trends and people that will shape the world in 2021. For the 18th annual Stories to Watch, WRI President and CEO Andrew Steer shared insights into why 2021 could set a foundation for a cleaner, sustainable and more equitable future.

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#STW21 - Stories to Watch 2021 | January 13, 2021

  1. 1. Image: Wikimedia Commons/San Salvatore
  2. 2. Image: Wikimedia/Us Air National Guard - Crystal Housman
  3. 3. Image: Associated Press
  4. 4. Image: Alamy
  5. 5. Image: Associated Press
  6. 6. Image: Wikimedia Commons
  7. 7. Image: Associated Press
  8. 8. Image: Alamy
  9. 9. Image: Flickr/ Paul Kagame
  10. 10. Image: Associated Press
  11. 11. Image: Associated Press
  12. 12. Image: Alamy
  13. 13. Image: Alamy
  14. 14. Image: Lisa Ferdinando, DOD
  15. 15. Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. - Arundhati Roy, Indian Author and Activist
  16. 16. We’ve Been Here Before: 1920 A Return to Normalcy Our need is not heroics ... but normalcy; not revolution ... but adjustment; not the dramatic, but equipoise. – President Warren Harding Image: Wikimedia Commons
  17. 17. What the Pandemic Has Taught Us We are vulnerable We have failed to address social justice We need to cooperate We need science We can adapt We need community
  18. 18. A New Era? 1945–1980: The Era of the State 1980–2020: The Era of the Market 2021– The Era of … Community Cooperation Resilience Tribalism Deglobalization
  19. 19. Photo: Flickr/Illinois Springfield This is a special moment in our history. Just as people of all faiths and no faiths, and all backgrounds, creeds and colors banded together decades ago to fight for equality and justice in a peaceful, orderly, nonviolent fashion, we must do so again. - Rep. John Lewis (1940-2020)
  20. 20. Equality and Social Justice Photo: Johnny Miller/Unequal Scenes 71% of the world’s population live in countries where inequality has grown since 1990
  21. 21. COVID-19 Has Exposed Racial and Social Injustice Black, Indigenous & Latino Americans 2.7X more likely to have died from COVID than White Americans Image: Associated Press
  22. 22. What Shape For the Recovery? Adapted from US Chamber of Commerce WHAT TO WATCH
  23. 23. Who Will Get the Vaccine? And When? Source: Economist Intelligence Unit, as of December 18, 2020. WHAT TO WATCH
  24. 24. How Will Companies Change? From Shareholder to Stakeholder Capitalism? Image: Flickr/ Colt International Unlimited WHAT TO WATCH
  25. 25. World Trade: Will it Unify or Divide Us? Photo: Flickr/Overseas Development Initiative • WTO Director-General Selection • Global Supply Chains • Onshoring, Nearshoring WHAT TO WATCH
  26. 26. Will Multilateralism Rebound? G7: Summer G20: October UNSG 75th Report: September Photo: Flickr/Palácio do Planalto WHAT TO WATCH
  27. 27. $13 Trillion in Stimulus Already, More on the Way 83% from G20 Source: IMF, WRI, Oct 2020
  28. 28. Stimulus Funds Are Deeply Unbalanced Source: IMF, WRI, Oct 2020
  29. 29. Emissions Fell in 2020; Not For the Right Reasons Source: the Global Carbon Project
  30. 30. Deeper Reductions Needed to Hit Net Zero Source: the Global Carbon Project
  31. 31. What we do now will not only reshape our economies and societies; it will also reshape humanity's future on this planet… – Kristalina Georgieva Managing Director, IMF Image: Flickr/IMF
  32. 32. Green Investments Can Be a Better Job Creator Source: IEA, IMF
  33. 33. Will More Countries Embrace Green Growth? Source: Vivid Economics Updated as of mid-Dec WHAT TO WATCH
  34. 34. Will Others Follow EU's Landmark Green Deal? 30% of $900B to be climate-friendly $21.5B for Just Transition Fund Image: Wikimedia/Diliff WHAT TO WATCH
  35. 35. What Happens to Development Assistance? • Bilateral aid? • Multilateral: A Special IDA? Image: Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security WHAT TO WATCH
  36. 36. Big Opportunities… Prioritized Climate in Campaign: • $2 trillion in clean infrastructure • 100% clean electricity by 2035 • Net Zero emissions by 2050 • Commitment to environmental justice Image: Alamy
  37. 37. From This…
  38. 38. …to This
  39. 39. What Will Biden Do in the 1st 100 Days? • Rejoin Paris Agreement • Reinstate Environmental Regulations • Grant California Waiver to Set Clean Car Standards • Issue Environmental Justice Executive Order • Suspend New Fossil Fuel Leases on Federal Land WHAT TO WATCH
  40. 40. What Will Be in the New US Climate Commitment? • Emissions reduction target: 45-50% by 2030? • Role of federal, state and local governments • Adaptation measures Image: Caleb Perez/Unsplash WHAT TO WATCH
  41. 41. Can Climate Breakthrough the Gridlock? 2021 Potential legislation: • Another stimulus bill • Infrastructure • Research and development • Natural climate solutions • GCF Funding WHAT TO WATCH
  42. 42. Will Biden Deliver on Environmental Justice? Committed 40% of clean energy investment to benefit disadvantaged communities. Image: Istockphoto WHAT TO WATCH
  43. 43. Will US Climate Diplomacy Strengthen Ties with Other Countries? • Reset relations with EU & UK? • A climate deal with India? • Improve ties with Canada and Mexico? • Confrontation or cooperation with China? Image: Alamy WHAT TO WATCH
  44. 44. Will US Inspire Ambition on Road to Glasgow? • What happens at Global Climate Summit in 1st 100 Days? • Will US step up its climate finance? • Will other countries re-engage? Image: istockphoto WHAT TO WATCH
  45. 45. From Patient One to Recovery 2021: China’s projected growth 8.2% Source: WRI and OECD
  46. 46. Progress on Extreme Poverty Extreme poverty in China has decreased by nearly 100 million from 2012 to 2020 Image: Unsplash/Max van den Oetelaar
  47. 47. Raising the Bar on Climate Change
  48. 48. How China Benefits From Accelerating to Net-Zero Source: WRI China
  49. 49. Will China Strengthen Targets? Image: Jason Chao/Unsplash March: National People’s Congress 14th Five Year Plan (2021-25) • Carbon intensity • Energy intensity • Energy use • Other environmental protections Updated NDC…? • Peak emissions year • A cap on coal • Extend to non-CO2 gases WHAT TO WATCH
  50. 50. Will China's National Carbon Market Take Off? Image: Freeman Zhou/Unsplash WHAT TO WATCH Launching in February; starting with power sector • How strong will the cap be? • How quickly will it expand to other sectors?
  51. 51. Will China Shift its BRI Strategy in 2021? BRI International Forum: April • New metrics for environmental impact? • What scale? What mix? Source: International Institute for Green Finance WHAT TO WATCH 138+ countries
  52. 52. Will China Lead by Example at the Biodiversity COP? WHAT TO WATCH Biodiversity COP 15 in Kunming
  53. 53. Can Climate Be a Bridge in Tense Times? Challenges: • Trade • Carbon-border adjustments • Overseas finance Images: Wikimedia President Xi China President von der Leyen European Union President Biden USA WHAT TO WATCH
  54. 54. Nature Rising in 2021… September Autumn? NovemberOctober January TBD September
  55. 55. Nature Is Key to Fighting Climate Change… • Eliminate emissions from land use • Maximize carbon removal from the atmosphere Image: Flickr/World Bank Photo Collection
  56. 56. …Feeding a Growing Population… Need to close 56% food gap to feed 10 billion people by 2050 Image: Unsplash/Deepak Kumar
  57. 57. …And Strengthening Economies Transitioning to a “Nature-Positive Economy” could create 395M jobs & $10T in business opportunities by 2030 Image: Shutterstock
  58. 58. But We Are Speeding in the Wrong Direction • 1 million species at risk • Annual tropical primary forest loss increased 41% since 2014 Image: Unsplash/Marcus Kauffman
  59. 59. A Four-Pronged Strategy to Realize the Value of Nature
  60. 60. Will New Plans Balance Nature With Food? • EU’s “Farm to Fork” strategy • Biden’s agriculture plan • Agriculture in COP26 commitments • Double funding for CGIAR? Image: Unsplash/Ricardo Gomez Angel WHAT TO WATCH
  61. 61. Will Nations Commit to Protect 30% of All Land and Sea? UN Conference on Biodiversity Kunming, China Image: Flickr/Rod Waddington WHAT TO WATCH
  62. 62. Will Nature Goals Include Indigenous Peoples’ Land Rights? ~50% of world's land is indigenous and community land; yet only 10% is legally recognized Image: Flickr/Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security WHAT TO WATCH
  63. 63. Will Countries Accelerate Action to Reduce Food Waste? • China's “Clean Plate” Campaign • Denmark and the UK are over halfway to reducing food waste by 50% Image: istockphoto WHAT TO WATCH
  64. 64. Will Breakthroughs in Monitoring Spur Restoration? Source: Global Restoration Initiative Bonn Challenge: 210M ha committed 14M ha in progress Coming Soon: Restoration Watch WHAT TO WATCH 61 countries
  65. 65. Sorting out Net Zero, Compensation and Offsets? Image: Koekoes/Flickr WHAT TO WATCH Billions of dollars at stake. But what rules of the game?
  66. 66. 2020: Ridership Fell Off a Cliff Source: WRI analysis through Google Mobility Index 2020
  67. 67. Transit Systems Near Bankruptcy In 2020: • EU $50B shortfall in public transit • Brazil lost $1.3B in rail service revenue • India lost $7B in bus revenue/mo • NYC needs $12B to stay afloat Image: AP
  68. 68. An Issue of Equity In the US… • Black households are 3X more likely to be without access to a vehicle than white households Image: Flickr/International Monetary Fund
  69. 69. Low Income Transit Users Hit Hardest In Africa, public transport cuts helped push an additional 9% of population into extreme poverty since COVID Image: Zahara Milele
  70. 70. Will More Cities Put Public Transit Ahead of Cars? • Nigeria committed ~$200M to informal transport operators • Austin, TX voted for a $7B tax to improve public transit • London set to expand Ultra Low Emissions Zone Image: Flickr/International Monetary Fund WHAT TO WATCH
  71. 71. Will the Stimulus Create Green Transport Jobs? Image: Alamy Green recovery could create 52M jobs; with 20% in the transport sector WHAT TO WATCH
  72. 72. Will Electrification of Public Transport Take Hold? Electric bus market may grow by 50% in 2021 Image: Flickr/hans-johnson WHAT TO WATCH
  73. 73. Will Cities Seize the Opportunity to Reimagine Streets? 400+ bicycle and pedestrian interventions in 218 cities since March 2020 Bogota, Kampala & Paris Image: WRI Ross Center for Sustainable Cities WHAT TO WATCH
  74. 74. A New Era for Cities? June: World Resources Report Towards a More Equal City Image: Flickr/C40 WHAT TO WATCH
  75. 75. Net Zero Targets Taking Off Source: CAT; Climate Watch; World Resources Institute 61 countries representing 53% of global GHG emissions
  76. 76. Corporate Momentum Building Source: World Resources Institute 1,100+ Companies Committed to Science Based Targets
  77. 77. So Too in Cities Image: WRI/Flickr Over 10,500 cities, representing 1 billion people, have joined the Global Covenant of Mayors
  78. 78. We Need to Accelerate the Acceleration
  79. 79. What’s Needed 1. NDCs: Plans for the 2020s 2. Negotiating Rules of the Game 3. Finance 4. Race to Zero Photo: World Resources Institute/Flickr
  80. 80. Plans for the 2020s: How Ambitious Are the NDCs? Source: WRI analysis WHAT TO WATCH 70 updated NDCs so far. 43 are more ambitious
  81. 81. Plans for the 2020s: How Ambitious Are the NDCs? Source: WRI analysis WHAT TO WATCH What year will China peak? Will US commit to 45-50% emission reduction by 2030?
  82. 82. Plans for the 2020s: How Ambitious Are the NDCs? Source: WRI analysis WHAT TO WATCH Will Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Canada align their 2030 and net zero targets?
  83. 83. Plans for the 2020s: How Ambitious Are the NDCs? Source: WRI analysis WHAT TO WATCH Will India, South Africa and Indonesia step up?
  84. 84. Plans for the 2020s: How Ambitious Are the NDCs? Source: WRI analysis WHAT TO WATCH What about the laggards?
  85. 85. The Negotiations: What Must be Agreed? Image: iStock • Article 6 on carbon markets • Common timelines for NDCs • Rules for the Global Stocktake • Finance and solidarity package WHAT TO WATCH November COP26 Glasgow, Scotland
  86. 86. How Will Development Finance Respond? • $100 Billion delivered? • Debt forgiveness? • Paris alignment of MDBs? Image: Flickr/World Bank Photo Collection WHAT TO WATCH
  87. 87. Will Adaptation Get the Attention It Deserves? Image: Shutterstock. WHAT TO WATCH January Climate Adaptation Summit The Netherlands Half of all climate finance for adaptation?
  88. 88. Will the Financial System Truly Become Part of the Solution? Image: Bank of England/Flickr WHAT TO WATCH • More Commitments to Net Zero? • Mandatory Reporting of Climate Risk?
  89. 89. Will the Race to Zero Deliver Sector Breakthroughs? Source: Race to Zero | Photo: World Resources Institute/Flickr • Elimination of internal combustion engine • Zero carbon shipping • Zero carbon buildings WHAT TO WATCH
  90. 90. Will Commitments in 2021 Add Up? Source: World Resources Institute, CAT, Climate Watch WHAT TO WATCH
  91. 91. Image: Chris Yakimov/Flickr
  92. 92. AFTER THE PANDEMIC | How Will the World Reset? BIGGEST ECONOMIC STIMULUS IN HISTORY | Will It Be Green? Will It Be Fair? GAME ON | Will the Biden-Harris Administration Recharge Climate Action? THE ROAD AHEAD FOR CHINA | What Will It Prioritize in 2021? NATURE POSITIVE | A Breakthrough Year? TRANSPORTATION DISRUPTION | Will Public Transit Survive? THE ROAD TO GLASGOW | 2021: The Inflection Point?