Jim Skea, co-chair of the IPCC working group: “It’s now or never if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C”.
Time is running out in the race against global warming. So far, efforts have fallen short. The United Nations recently released its newest 3500- page climate report, a warning letter rife with worrying details about the sea level rise, risks of natural disasters and scorching heat.
The report finds that emissions are still rising, and the world’s current emissions trend could result in warming of more than twice the target limit of no more than 1.5° Celsius. In other words, the world has three years left to cut emissions and eight years left to meet the Paris targets.
But there is a silver lining. The new report assesses the potential of technological advances and provides evidence that meaningful climate action, when executed well, can improve the well-being of people around the world.
Let’s have a look at the report’s key takeaways:
Without action, risks will be magnified
The report states that current emissions trends- left unchanged - put the planet on a path to warming by about 3.2 degrees Celsius. Only immediate and ambitious climate action will keep global temperatures from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Since the previous IPCC report back in 2014, hazards have increased in frequency and intensity far beyond natural variability. Not addressed, these climate hazards will unavoidably increase. Every 0.1 Celsius matters and magnifies the risks.
The report calls for cutting carbon emissions even more firmly by significantly reducing our use of fossil fuels and transitioning to clean energy by 2050. We know what we need to do and have the tools to make a difference.
Carbon removal is a must to reach Net Zero
The report concluded that carbon removal is unavoidable for a path to net-zero emissions. There are cost-effective methods of cutting carbon that could meet half the 2030 emissions target. Halting deforestation, regrowing dense forests and restoring wetlands is the easiest way to achieve this.
One of the major highlights in the report was the increasing affordability of clean energy. Clean energy has become more affordable than fossil-fuel-powered electricity generation in many countries. Additionally, the report points to “digitalisation” as an efficient way to increase energy efficiency and manage renewable power.
The low-carbon energy transition is an economic opportunity and requires access to all available clean energy technologies based on innovation and sustainable resource management.
Our behaviour can make the difference
For the first time in an IPCC report, climate scientists looked at carbon-cutting from the demand side and they found that we can reduce 40 to 70% of emissions by 2050 compared to recent trends.
How we live and work can have a major positive impact, the U.N. report found. There is a powerful role that we can play. Recycling more, reducing red meat consumption, air travel and building energy use are all areas where our actions can have a great impact. At the individual level, we can cut emissions from the residential, commercial and transport sectors — positively impacting global emissions.
Additionally, pushing local governments to enact policies towards changing people’s lifestyles, such as better public transit, reducing car use in favour of walking or cycling, and demand for more energy-efficient buildings will also make a difference.
Time is running short
And the window of opportunity is closing rapidly. It is now urgent that we step up to climate action. We can avoid the worst consequences of climate change if emissions start to reduce now.
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