What 2020 meant for climate action

What 2020 meant for climate action
24 February 2021

What 2020 meant for climate action


As a consultant working in climate action planning and transparency (CAPT), I spent much of 2020 – as many of us did – on the internet speaking to colleagues and clients in their homes and offices around the world. Those conversations revealed a lot. On the one hand, it was that we all had more patience than we thought for muted microphones, spotty internet connections and interrupting family members. On the other hand, something much more significant was revealed.

For the governments of countless countries, states, regions and cities around the world, 2020 meant working harder than ever to reduce their contribution to global emissions, protect themselves against the worst impacts of the climate emergency and support other governments in their efforts to do the same. For all of the things that had to stop last year due to the pandemic, one area that saw tremendous progress made was climate action. This made it a very busy year for Ricardo’s climate team.

In total, we supported 71 different governments around the world with their climate action planning, including 34 national governments, 15 regional governments and 22 city governments. Ricardo’s CAPT team alone worked with 43 different countries across 5 continents.

The support required was wide-ranging and included:

  • Assessing the impact and feasibility of climate actions.
  • Prioritising the most important ones to help governments to update their nationally determined contributions (NDCs).
  • Developing long-term strategies and climate action plans.
  • Compiling and reviewing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventories.
  • Modelling future emission trajectories.
  • Designing transparency systems.
  • Analysing and reporting climate finance flows.
  • Building tools and templates to make people’s lives easier.
  • Teaching governments around the world how to do all of the above things and more.

The highlight for me was interacting with all of the brilliant people around the world who are carrying out this work in countries where climate change is just one of many huge challenges they are working to address.

In 2021, the pace of action is set to increase. While, for now, the challenges facing the way we work are still present, the passion and momentum from governments to make progress is only increasing. As the threats of the climate emergency loom larger than ever, and as the deadline approaches to submit new and updated climate pledges before COP26 (and then implement them), more effort will be required and more innovative solutions needed to meet the challenges that lie ahead. Thankfully, the world’s governments at all levels seem to have the appetite to do so and Ricardo’s experts are in a better position than ever to support them in their ambitions.