Nations are not doing enough to prevent global warming from rising to dangerous levels during the lives of most people on Earth today, according to a new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of researchers convened by the United Nations. Limiting the devastation will not be easy, but it is also not impossible if countries act now, the report says.
The panel produces a complete overview of climate science once every six to eight years. It divides its conclusions into three reports. The first, on what is driving global warming, came out last August. The second, on the effects of climate change on our world and our ability to adapt to them, was published in February. This is number 3 on how we can reduce emissions and limit global warming.
Without prompt action, we are headed for trouble.
The report makes it clear that nations’ current commitments to curb greenhouse gas emissions are unlikely to prevent global warming from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, in the coming decades. And that means countries are moving forward. If they don’t, there will be even more warming up.
This goal, to prevent the average global temperature from rising by 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels, is what many world governments have agreed to pursue. Sounds modest. But that figure represents a series of radical changes that occur as greenhouse gases trap more heat on the planet’s surface, including more deadly storms, more intense heat waves, rising seas and additional stress on crops. The Earth has been warming by an average of 1.1 degrees Celsius since the 19th century.
Emissions are linked to economic growth and revenue.
So far, the world is not becoming more energy-efficient fast enough to balance the continued growth of global economic activity, the report says.
Emissions of carbon dioxide from factories, cities, buildings, farms and vehicles increased during the 2010s, outweighing the benefits of switching power plants to natural gas from coal and using more renewable sources such as wind and solar.
In general, it is the richest people and the richest nations that are warming the planet. Worldwide, the richest 10% of households are responsible for between one-third and nearly one-half of all greenhouse gas emissions, according to the report. The poorest 50% of households contribute about 15% of emissions.
Clean energy has become more affordable.
Prices for solar and wind energy, and electric vehicle batteries, have dropped significantly since 2010, according to the report. The result is that it may now be “more expensive” in some cases to maintain highly polluting energy systems than switching to clean sources, the report says.
By 2020, solar and wind power provided about 10 percent of the world’s electricity. Average global emissions grew much more slowly in the 2010s than in the 2000s, in part due to increased use of green energy.
It was not obvious to scientists that this would happen so quickly. In a 2011 report on renewable energy, the same panel noted that technological advances would likely make green energy cheaper, although it said it was difficult to predict how much.
However, altering the climate trajectory will not be easy or cheap.
The world needs to invest three to six times what it currently spends on climate change mitigation if it wants to limit global warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius, the report says. Money is especially short in the poorest countries, which need billions of dollars of investment every year during this decade.
They understand the latest news on climate change
As nations abandon fossil fuels, some economic disruptions are inevitable, the report notes. Resources will be left on the ground unburned; mines and power plants will be financially unviable. The economic impact could be trillions of dollars, the report says.
However, keeping the planned and existing fossil fuel infrastructure up and running will pump enough carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to make it impossible to keep warming below 1.5 degrees, the report says.
There are other steps that could help and not break the bank.
The report looks at a number of other changes in companies that could reduce emissions, such as more energy-efficient buildings, more recycling and more white-collar work that goes remote and virtual.
These changes should not be tasks that slow down the economy, the report stresses. Some, such as better public transportation and more passable urban areas, have benefits for air pollution and general welfare, said Joyashree Roy, an economist at the Bangkok Asian Institute of Technology who contributed to the report. . “People are calling for healthier cities and greener cities,” he said.
In total, measures that would cost less than $ 100 per tonne of carbon dioxide saved could reduce global emissions to about half of the 2019 level by 2030, the report says. Other steps are still more expensive, such as capturing more carbon dioxide from the gases emitted from the chimneys of power plants, the report says.
The world also needs to remove the carbon dioxide that is already in the atmosphere. Planting more trees is practically the only way to do it on a large scale right now, the report says. Other methods, such as the use of chemicals to extract atmospheric carbon or add nutrients to the oceans to stimulate photosynthesis in small marine plants, are still in early development.
“We can’t ignore how much technology can help,” said Joni Jupesta, author of the report at the Earth Research Institute for Innovative Technology in Kyoto, Japan. “Not all countries have many natural resources.”