Washington, D.C. (November 4, 2022) – Today, Systems Change Lab launched an open-source data platform to track global progress on key transformational changes across major systems, including how we power industries, build cities, govern societies and conserve nature.
Systems Change Lab is a collaborative initiative designed to spur action at the pace and scale needed to tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges: limiting global warming to 1.5°C, halting biodiversity loss and building a just and equitable economy.
“We need to enact systems change to avoid the worst climate change impacts, protect nature and create a safer, more equitable, and sustainable future for all,” said Andrew Steer, President and CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund. “The Systems Change Lab’s new data platform will allow anyone, anywhere, to track global progress, help monitor necessary shifts, learn about the ingredients for transformation and catalyze new ways of doing things to make positive change irresistible and unstoppable.”
A joint effort by World Resources Institute and the Bezos Earth Fund, Systems Change Lab supports the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions and works with key partners and funders including Climate Action Tracker (a project of NewClimate Institute and Climate Analytics), ClimateWorks Foundation, Global Environment Facility, Just Climate, Mission Possible Partnership, Systemiq, University of Exeter and the University of Tokyo’s Center for Global Commons, among others. Systems Change Lab is also a component of the Global Commons Alliance.
“Overcoming the challenges that face our world will require a radical departure from the approaches we’ve taken so far. Systems Change Lab’s new data platform identifies and tracks the key transformations for creating a better future.” said Carlos Manuel Rodríguez, CEO and Chairperson of the Global Environment Facility. “It highlights progress, but also where change is moving in the wrong direction, guiding decisions and action from policy and finance to advocacy and corporate efforts.”
The new platform offers a data-rich “virtual situation room” that showcases research, analysis, interactive dashboards and data visualizations. The data platform initially draws on the information and methodology underpinning System’s Change Lab’s State of Climate Action 2022 report — expanding beyond climate action by highlighting current action toward climate, biodiversity and equity targets. The initial launch features data-driven insights on five systems: power, industry, transport, finance and carbon removal.
“Across all energy systems, none of the indicators we monitor are on track to meet their 2030 targets,” said Louise Jeffery, NewClimate Institute. “Getting on track means major shifts across multiple inter-connected systems, including the rapid phase out of fossil fuel electricity generation, fast scale up of renewables, demand reduction for materials, and shifts to public, shared and non-motorized transport. All need to happen in a manner that ensures equitable access to energy services for all.”
The platform identifies dozens of transformational shifts that are necessary to protect both people and the planet, and highlights progress that is needed to reach future targets. Systems Change Lab classifies which changes are accelerating or moving in the wrong direction altogether, calculating the necessary factors of acceleration to meet these key targets.
- While the number of people without access to electricity dropped steadily over the past two decades — reaching 733 million in 2020 — efforts will need to accelerate by 1.6x to achieve universal access by 2030.
- The share of electric vehicles in passenger car sales is already increasing exponentially, up to almost 9% in 2021, but this change will need to accelerate by a factor of five to reach the 2030 target of 30%.
- Public climate finance will need to expand four to nine times to reach between $1.31 and $2.61 trillion per year by 2030. Such an increase will require growing at an average rate of $166 billion per year between 2020 and 2030.
- Global green hydrogen production increased almost sevenfold between 2010 and 2020. Current annual green hydrogen production globally is only 0.03% of what is required in 2030 to achieve the target.
In addition to tracking progress toward future targets, the platform monitors both enablers and barriers of change. These include investments, policies, leadership from governments and companies, among other factors that can drive progress or inhibit change. Looking to these enablers and barriers, we find signals of change and opportunities for growth. For example:
- Global investments in battery storage have grown from $1.6 billion in 2015 to $18 billion in 2022, reaching an average growth rate of 36% per year since 2019.
- Between 2010 and 2020, global green hydrogen production increased almost 7-fold.
- The total number of announced low carbon steel projects has been increasing rapidly in recent years — there were nine in 2019 and 51 in 2021.
- In 2015, around twice as much power system investment was made in renewables than in fossil fuels. Since then, renewable investments have been increasing sharply — as of 2022, around four times as much investment is being made in renewables than in fossil fuels.
- About 23% of global greenhouse gas emissions were covered by a direct carbon pricing regime as of 2022, compared with 13% in 2020.
“The progress we are seeing — for example, declining costs of renewables and batteries and electric vehicles scale-up — is not happening in a vacuum but is the result of leadership, policies, incentives, innovation, and of course, investment. It’s clear that we need a rapid expansion of these enablers, and massively scaled up finance is critical,” said Claire Fyson, Climate Analytics. “Data on the platform show that governments and private institutions are still pouring vast amounts of money into fossil fuels, but we can’t expect the rapid shift to clean energy if we don’t get financial flows moving in the right direction, at the right scale.”
Shifts and indicators are displayed in a variety of interfaces, including an interactive dashboard, various data visualizations and system specific pages. Users can search for key words or systems to find data of interest.
“We need to hastily transform our socioeconomic systems to avert today’s crises and safeguard our global commons for human prosperity and environmental sustainability,” said Naoko Ishii, Executive Vice President at University of Tokyo, Director of the Center for Global Commons, and Steering Committee member of the Global Commons Alliance. “Yet all transformations must work synergistically and be pursued in harmony with each other. Systems Change Lab’s incredible breadth and depth of analysis makes the data platform a powerful tool for the world’s leaders to better understand the state of progress for each system transformation.”
In 2023, the platform will be further expanded to feature more than a dozen systems, including cities and the built environment, circular economy, freshwater management, food, good governance, forests and land management, new economics for climate and nature, ocean management and social inclusion and equity. Further additions will include other new features like an interactive “Connections Dashboard” that shows how systems are related and where coordinated action is most needed.
“Worldwide ambition is still far from where it needs to be: countries must increase their climate ambition by at least six times this decade to keep the goal of 1.5 degrees within reach. The Systems Change Lab data platform tracks and visualizes the actual progress on all the shifts necessary to achieve this urgent transformation, offering an avenue for decision-makers to pinpoint where action can have cascading impacts,” said Ani Dasgupta, President and CEO, World Resources Institute. “We know what needs to happen — we just have to move much faster on all fronts.”
Systems Change Lab was formed to achieve three primary objectives: monitor progress across each of the required shifts, learn and share the ingredients for transformational change, and nudge and campaign to accelerate action where it is most needed. The data platform and the State of Climate Action 2022 together tackle the initiative's first objective of monitoring progress.
The new data platform provides advocates, policymakers, philanthropies, funders and global leaders with insights to inform policy, investments and other bold climate actions.
About Systems Change Lab
Systems Change Lab is a collaborative initiative that aims to spur action at the pace and scale needed to tackle some of the world’s greatest challenges: limiting global warming to 1.5°C, halting biodiversity loss and building a just economy. Convened by World Resources Institute and Bezos Earth Fund, Systems Change Lab supports the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions and works with key partners and funders including Climate Action Tracker (a project of NewClimate Institute and Climate Analytics), ClimateWorks Foundation, Global Environment Facility, Just Climate, Mission Possible Partnership, Systemiq, University of Exeter, and the University of Tokyo’s Center for Global Commons, among others. Systems Change Lab is a component of the Global Commons Alliance.
About the Bezos Earth Fund
The Bezos Earth Fund is Jeff Bezos’s $10 billion commitment to fund scientists, activists, NGOs, and other actors that will drive climate and nature solutions. By allocating funds creatively, wisely, and boldly, the Bezos Earth Fund has the potential for transformative influence in this decisive decade. Funds will be fully allocated by 2030—the date by which the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals must be achieved.
About Climate Action Tracker
The Climate Action Tracker (CAT) is an independent research project that tracks government climate action and measures it against the globally agreed Paris Agreement goal of limiting warming to 1.5˚C. A collaboration of two organizations, Climate Analytics and NewClimate Institute, the CAT has been providing this independent analysis to policymakers since 2009.
About Climate Analytics
Climate Analytics is a non-profit institute leading research on climate science and policy in relation to the 1.5°C limit in the Paris Agreement. It has offices in Germany, the United States, Togo, Australia, Nepal and Trinidad and Tobago.
About NewClimate Institute
NewClimate Institute is a non-profit institute established in 2014. NewClimate Institute supports research and implementation of action against climate change around the globe, covering the topics of international climate negotiations, tracking climate action, climate and development, climate finance and carbon market mechanisms. NewClimate Institute aims at connecting up-to-date research with real world decision-making processes.
About Global Commons Alliance
The Global Commons Alliance (GCA) was formed to catalyze urgent action at scale to protect and restore the global commons for a safe and just future for humanity. With more than seventy partners, it is a network of organizations that collaborate, instead of competing, to deliver solutions for safeguarding the Global Commons.
About the Global Environment Facility
The Global Environment Facility is the world’s largest funder of biodiversity protection, nature restoration, climate change response, and pollution reduction in developing countries. It finances international environmental conventions and country-driven initiatives that generate global benefits. The GEF partnership connects 184 member governments with civil society, Indigenous Peoples, and the private sector, and works closely with other environmental financiers for efficiency and impact. To date, the GEF has provided more than $22 billion in grants and blended finance and mobilized another $120 billion in co-financing for more than 5,000 national and regional projects, plus 27,000 community ventures through its Small Grants Programme.
About World Resources Institute
World Resources Institute is a global research organization that turns big ideas into action at the nexus of environment, economic opportunity, and human well-being.
Our Challenge: Natural resources are at the foundation of economic opportunity and human well-being. But today, we are depleting Earth’s resources at rates that are not sustainable, endangering economies and people’s lives. People depend on clean water, fertile land, healthy forests, and a stable climate. Livable cities and clean energy are essential for a sustainable planet. We must address these urgent, global challenges this decade.
Our Vision: We envision an equitable and prosperous planet driven by the wise management of natural resources. We aspire to create a world where the actions of government, business, and communities combine to eliminate poverty and sustain the natural environment for all people.
About the University of Tokyo’s Center for Global Commons
The Center for Global Commons at the University of Tokyo has developed a framework of Global Commons Stewardship to achieve sustainable development within the Planetary Boundaries by mid-century. The Center will also promote transformation of key socio-economic systems in energy, food, resource circulation, and urbanization through the multi-stakeholder coalition involving variety of partners. It seeks to support University of Tokyo’s vision to play a key role in catalyzing society transformation by mobilizing decision-makers across a broad spectrum — far beyond academia — in search for fundamental solutions to challenges to humanity.