The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued a stark warning on the need to cut down greenhouse emissions significantly to halt global warming, avoid irreversible impacts on our planet and meet the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5°C by the end of this century.
According to the Climate Change 2022 Report released by the IPCC, the average annual global greenhouse gas emissions from 2010-to 2019 were at their highest levels in human history, but the rate of growth has slowed. Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, limiting global warming to 1.5°C is beyond reach.
The report notes that the next few years are critical in limiting warming to around 1.5°C (2.7°F). It added that to achieve ‘Net Zero’ requires global greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025 at the latest, and be reduced by 43% by 2030. At the same time, methane would also need to be reduced by about a third.
“It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F),” said Professor Jim Skea, the Co-chair of Working Group III of the IPCC. “Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible”, it reiterated.
The report continued, “However, there is increasing evidence of climate action. Since 2010, there have been sustained decreases of up to 85% in the costs of solar and wind energy, and batteries. An increasing range of policies and laws have enhanced energy efficiency, reduced rates of deforestation and accelerated the deployment of renewable energy.”
VIEWS OF KEY WORKING GROUP MEMBERS ON THE REPORT
"We are at a crossroads. The decisions we make now can secure a liveable future. We have the tools and know-how required to limit warming," said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee. “I am encouraged by climate action being taken in many countries. There are policies, regulations and market instruments that are proving effective. If these are scaled up and applied more widely and equitably, they can support deep emissions reductions and stimulate innovation.”
He added, "We have options in all sectors to at least halve emissions by 2030. Limiting global warming will require major transitions in the energy sector. This will involve a substantial reduction in fossil fuel use, widespread electrification, improved energy efficiency, and use of alternative fuels (such as hydrogen)."
“Having the right policies, infrastructure and technology in place to enable changes to our lifestyles and behaviour can result in a 40-70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This offers significant untapped potential,” said IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair Priyadarshi Shukla. “The evidence also shows that these lifestyle changes can improve our health and wellbeing.”
Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
In a press statement released by the IPCC, they indicated that accelerated and equitable climate action in mitigating and adapting to climate change impacts is critical to sustainable development. Some response options can absorb and store carbon and, at the same time, help communities limit the impacts associated with climate change. For example, in cities, networks of parks and open spaces, wetlands and urban agriculture can reduce flood risk and reduce heat-island effects.
Mitigation in industry can reduce environmental impacts and increase employment and business opportunities. Electrification with renewables and shifts in public transport can enhance health, employment, and equity.
Prof. Jim Skea emphasized, “Agriculture, forestry, and other land use can provide large-scale emissions reductions and also remove and store carbon dioxide at scale. However, land cannot compensate for delayed emissions reductions in other sectors. Response options can benefit biodiversity, help us adapt to climate change, and secure livelihoods, food and water, and wood supplies.”
“Climate change is the result of more than a century of unsustainable energy and land use, lifestyles and patterns of consumption and production,” said Skea. “This report shows how taking action now can move us towards a fairer, more sustainable world.”