The Value of Climate Cooperation: Networked and Inclusive Multilateralism to meet 1.5°C

This paper was commissioned by the United Nations Foundation and co-written with E3G and Climate Analytics as a contribution to the UN Secretary-General’s Our Common Agenda consultations, to explore the nature and value of multilateral cooperation on climate change.

As the threat of a climate catastrophe intensifies it is important to remember that the past thirty years have seen unprecedented cooperation to build the scientific evidence, agree a global goal, design governance systems that can ratchet up ambition in line with the science, and drive the technological advances we now need to deploy at scale.

This paper argues that such progress through cooperation means the path to 1.5°C remains open, if only barely, and we now have the frameworks and tools that make it still possible.

This paper looks at three scenarios for our future:

  • Into the Abyss – where there has been no international action on climate change, the world is already at or over the 1.5°C threshold and is on track to c.4.4°C of warming by 2100.
  • Base Camp – which describes our current trajectory, with climate cooperation cutting our trajectory to an estimated 2.7°C of warming by the end of this century (range: 2.1°C – 3.5°C).
  • Ascend the Summit – which assumes the world takes immediate and decisive action to shift our trajectory down towards 1.5°C.

We are now poised at the threshold of what has to be a radical transformation of the global economy. The paper argues that the path to 1.5°C is most likely to stay open if we put people at the heart of the transition to net zero; make net zero universal, credible and inevitableaccelerate delivery in the 2020s, and organize global systems for a low-carbon age.