Nations are not doing nearly enough to prevent global warming from rising to dangerous levels in 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. Reducing the devastation will not be easy, but it is also not impossible if the parties act now, the report said.
The panel provides a comprehensive review of climate science every six to eight years. He divided his findings into three reports. The first, about what drives 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 launched in February. This is number 3 on how we can reduce emissions and limit further warming.
Without quick action, we are on our way to trouble.
The report makes it clear that current promises by nations to limit greenhouse gas emissions are unlikely to stop global warming from exceeding 1.5 degrees Celsius or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit over the next few decades. And this is provided that the parties follow. If they do not, even greater warming is expected.
This goal – to prevent the average global temperature from rising by 1.5 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels – is a goal that many world governments have agreed to pursue. Sounds modest. But that number represents a number of radical changes that are taking place as greenhouse gases trap more heat on the planet’s surface, including more deadly storms, more intense heat waves, rising seas and additional strain on crops. The earth has already warmed by about 1.1 degrees Celsius on average since the 19th century.
Emissions are linked to economic growth and income.
So far, the world is not becoming more energy efficient fast enough to balance the continued growth of global economic activity, the report said.
Emissions of carbon dioxide from factories, cities, buildings, farms and vehicles increased in 2010, outweighing the benefits of switching power plants to coal-fired natural gas and using more renewable sources such as wind and solar energy.
In general, the richest people and the richest nations are warming the planet. Globally, the richest 10 percent of households are responsible for between one-third and nearly half of all greenhouse gas emissions, according to the report. The poorest 50 percent of households contribute about 15 percent of emissions.
Clean energy has become more accessible.
Prices for solar and wind energy and batteries for electric vehicles have fallen significantly since 2010, the report said. As a result, maintaining highly polluting energy systems may now be “more expensive” in some cases than switching to clean sources, the report said.
In 2020, solar and wind energy provide nearly 10 percent of the world’s electricity. Global average emissions grew much slower in 2010 than in 2000, in part due to greater 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 are likely to make green energy cheaper, although it said it was difficult to predict how much.
However, climate change will not be easy or cheap.
The world must invest three to six times more than it currently spends on climate change mitigation if it wants to limit global warming to 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius, the report said. Money is especially scarce in poorer countries, which need trillions of dollars in investment each year for this decade.
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As nations abandon fossil fuels, some economic disruptions are inevitable, the report said. Resources will be left unburned in the ground; mines and power plants will become financially unviable. The economic impact could be in the trillions of dollars, the report said.
However, the simple maintenance and operation of planned and existing fossil fuel infrastructure will pump enough carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to make it impossible to keep warming below 1.5 degrees, the report said.
There are other steps that could help and would not break the bank.
The report looks at a number of other changes in societies that could reduce emissions, including more energy-efficient buildings, more recycling and more white-collar work that is becoming remote and virtual.
These changes should not depreciate the economy, the report emphasizes. Some, such as better public transport and more passable urban areas, benefit from air pollution and overall well-being, said Joyashri Roy, an economist at the Asian Institute of Technology in Bangkok, who contributed to the report. “People demand healthier cities and greener cities,” she said.
Overall, steps that would cost less than $ 100 a tonne of carbon dioxide saved could reduce global emissions by about half of the 2019-2030 level, the report said. Other steps remain more expensive, such as capturing more of the carbon dioxide from the gases from power plants’ chimneys, the report said.
The world must also remove the carbon dioxide that is already in the atmosphere. Planting more trees is almost the only way to do this on a large scale at the moment, the report said. 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 their infancy.
“We can’t ignore how much technology can help,” said Johnny Jupesta, author of the report from the Research Institute for Innovative Earth Technologies in Kyoto, Japan. “Not every country has many natural resources.”