Curtin said that he fully expected the EU to make its goals under the Paris treaty—it just needed more time. “The EU is on track to meet its 2020 pledge (it will significantly over-comply), and then 2030 will come into greater focus,” he told me. He added that he doesn’t love the UN’s pessimistic public pose. “I think it’s very dangerous to take a ‘plague on all their houses approach,’” he said. Instead, he favored promoting policies such as those in Sweden, the U.K., and Germany as examples the rest of the world should follow.
And not everything looks bleak in global climate policy. Even as the United Kingdom plans to leave the EU, it has publicly promised to uphold the EU’s climate goals under Paris. The UN report also hails states, cities, and companies that have promised to cut their carbon emissions. The Science Based Targets initiative, which has set pollution-cutting goals for companies such as McDonald’s, General Mills, and CVS Health, deserved high praise, Drost said.
“What this report makes strikingly clear is that everyone has to do everything,” he told me. “Citizens have to be engaged, have to pay attention, have to use their purchasing power, have to demand change from businesses. Governments have to scale up their [Paris pledges]. Everyone needs to act, and everyone can act.”