This article identifies and quantifies the 10 most important benchmarks for climate action to be taken by 2020 – 2025 to keep the window open for a 1.5°C-consistent GHG emission pathway.


We conducted a comprehensive review of existing emissions scenarios, scanned all sectors and the respective necessary transitions, and distilled the most important short-term benchmarks for action in line with the long-term perspective of the required global low-carbon transition. Owing to the limited carbon budget, combined with the inertia of existing systems, global energy economic models find only limited pathways to stay on track for a 1.5°C world consistent with the long-term temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.


The identified benchmarks include:


  • Sustain the current growth rate of renewables and other zero and low-carbon power generation until 2025 to reach 100% share by 2050;

  • No new coal power plants, reduce emissions from existing coal fleet by 30% by 2025;

  • Last fossil fuel passenger car sold by 2035–2050;

  • Develop and agree on a 1.5°C-consistent vision for aviation and shipping;

  • All new buildings fossil-free and near-zero energy by 2020;

  • Increase building renovation rates from less than 1% in 2015 to 5% by 2020;

  • All new installations in emissions-intensive sectors low-carbon after 2020, maximize material efficiency;

  • Reduce emissions from forestry and other land use to 95% below 2010 levels by 2030, stop net deforestation by 2025;

  • Keep agriculture emissions at or below current levels, establish and disseminate regional best practice, ramp up research;

  • Accelerate research and planning for negative emission technology deployment.

Key policy insights

  • These benchmarks can be used when designing policy options that are 1.5°C, Paris Agreement consistent.

  • They require technology diffusion and sector transformations at a large scale and high speed, in many cases immediate introduction of zero-carbon technologies, not marginal efficiency improvements.

  • For most benchmarks we show that there are signs that the identified needed transitions are possible: in some specific cases it is already happening.


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