We have the knowledge, the money, the technology and the affordable clean energy we need to halve our carbon emissions by 2030. That’s the good news from the Group’s Working Group III report. intergovernmental experts on climate change published on Monday.
What stands in the way is the lack of political will and sufficient funding to bring about the rapid, widespread and cross-sectoral changes needed, according to the report.
The authors warn that ‘it’s now or never’ if humanity is to achieve its long-standing goal of limiting global warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, which will be ‘impossible’ without rapid and massive emissions of greenhouse gases. But funding is currently three to six times less than it would need to be to ensure the global average temperature does not rise above 2 degrees Celsius. The money to close this gap exists, the report points out, and making it available is a matter of “better alignment of public sector finance and policies”.
“Putting the right policies, infrastructure and technologies in place to enable changes in our lifestyles and behaviors can lead to a 40-70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This offers significant untapped potential,” said Priyadarshi, co-chair of IPCC Working Group III. Shukla, a professor at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, who specializes in energy and environmental modeling and policy, said in a press release.
The latest report – one of three released by the UN agency since August 2021 – focused on pledges made regarding global mitigation efforts to tackle and reduce global warming. It was originally due to be released earlier today on Monday, but was delayed a few hours as aides reportedly brokered disagreements over language and key issues like finance, illustrating the controversial global politics and prerogatives that can thwart the progress.
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres was outspoken at a press conference on Monday morning, calling the latest report a “litany of broken climate promises” and a “record of shame cataloging the promises voids” that put the planet on a “fast gear”. path to climate catastrophe. He accused some government leaders and business leaders of “lying” because they say one thing but do another when it comes to meeting climate targets.
“This is not fiction or exaggeration. It is what science tells us that will result from our current energy policies,” said António Guterres. He stressed that the global transition to renewable energy – which are often already “much cheaper” than oil and gas – must triple current speed and be underlined by a redistribution of investment and subsidies away from fossil fuels.
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More public policies have been put in place over the past twelve years to increase energy efficiency, reduce deforestation rates and put renewable energy into action more quickly. But the implications and consequences of climate change remain dire, warns the report, particularly if “immediate and deep emission reductions” in sectors like energy, agriculture and urban development are not executed effectively. and timely.
The effects of climate change could consume up to $2 trillion from the annual US budget by the end of the century, plus additional billions each year in other mitigation and relief spending, according to a report. evaluation of the Office of Management and Budget. Although largely insufficient to alleviate the crisis, we have made progress. Between 2010 and 2019, “annual average global greenhouse gas emissions were at their highest level in human history,” but that rate of growth has since slowed, the report authors said in a statement. Press release.
Knowing now what we need to do to achieve key international climate goals, the actions governments take now could benefit people around the world – including those who are most vulnerable and least responsible for these emissions – if designed taking these considerations into account. Evidence shows that the lifestyle changes humanity needs to make “can improve our health and well-being,” Shukla said.
Here are some of the great takeaways:
- The energy, land use and industry sectors need to make rapid transitions to dramatically reduce the use of fossil fuels by switching to alternative fuel sources, becoming more energy efficient and prioritizing recycling and reuse of materials while minimizing waste. This helps achieve the ultimate goal of net zero carbon dioxide emissions – the point at which global temperature will stabilize.
- The costs of renewable energy sources – solar and wind power, as well as batteries designed to store the energy they produce – have come down significantly, making them more competitive with gas and coal (and in some cases, cheaper). Since 2010, they have shown “sustained declines of up to 85%”, according to the report. More affordable renewals should help reduce the financial barriers associated with transitioning from fossil fuels.
- The steps we take to develop more planet-friendly policies have the potential to improve livelihoods at all levels. Past efforts to reduce carbon emissions have sometimes led to “short-term negative impacts on vulnerable low-income groups”, but co-author and climate scientist Celine Guivarch said in a statement that these policies can be designed to “avoid increasing and even reducing economic inequalities and poverty. To do this, she added, it is necessary to integrate “considerations of equity and justice into policies at all scales”. The experiences and the knowledge of indigenous and other local communities must be seen as dominant strategies when it comes to rethinking how we use and manage land sustainably, the report adds.
- Greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by more than 40%, with methane specifically being reduced by around a third, in order to limit warming to around 1.5 degrees Celsius. António Guterres warned in his statement on Monday that current climate pledges will result in a 14% drop. to augment in emissions by the end of the decade, and therefore needs to be significantly modified. Scientists have warned that levels must peak by 2025 – three years from now – “at the latest” and be cut by a quarter by 2030 in order to meet that target.
- A combination of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, adopting innovative technologies that prioritize renewable energy, and using carbon capture and storage will be needed to achieve climate goals. Land use changes in agriculture and forestry can help remove carbon from the atmosphere, but these alone will not be enough without a significant reduction in emissions across all sectors.
- Transit infrastructure can benefit from investments to reduce fossil fuel emissions by introducing more electric options such as scooters and e-bikes. Making these resources more widely accessible also directly benefits marginalized populations, especially those with historically limited transportation options.
Despite signs of progress, scientists have long warned that the consequences already seen across the world – like more extreme and frequent weather events, the loss of vulnerable species and reduced access to crucial resources like water drinking water – will persist and intensify in the absence of direct changes. and meaningful action.
Report co-author Linda Steg, who is also a professor of environmental psychology at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, said governments will struggle to know whether their people will support massive change. But the way to gain public trust is to be transparent about decision-making and to distribute costs and benefits “fairly”.
Every country “must go further and faster,” the US president’s special climate envoy, John Kerry, said in a statement on Monday. Faster, he added, means rapidly deploying renewable energy, reducing methane emissions, ending and reversing deforestation, demanding sustainable public transit, among other measures.
“The IPCC report reminds us that mitigation is not about cost. It’s about investing in our future, the future of our children and the future of our planet,” Kerry said. “Choosing the most sustainable option is not only the right thing to do, but the IPCC has shown that it is now the most affordable choice.”
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