According to the latest report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world needs to cut carbon emissions by a quarter by 2030 to avoid the catastrophic effects of climate change. Governments and industries need to make sure that carbon emissions are balanced by 2025. Even so, the world needs to invest in CO2 removal factories and other carbon dioxide removal technologies. With all these measures, the world can still expect a minimum rise in temperature of 1.5 degrees Celsius over the next few decades.
Leading author of the report Sarah Birch wrote on Twitter that even the 1.5 degrees Celsius target is unlikely, and this opinion was expressed by other climatologists. To achieve this goal, virtually every industry and country needs to reduce emissions ASAP. “Average annual greenhouse gas emissions over the last 10 years were THE HIGHEST IN HUMAN HISTORY. We are not on track to limit warming to less than 1.5 degrees,” Birch wrote on Twitter.
2. Average annual greenhouse gas emissions over the last 10 years were THE HIGHEST IN HUMAN HISTORY. We are not on track to limit warming to less than 1.5 degrees.
— Sarah Burch (@SarahLynnBurch) April 4, 2022
But the report also contains some optimistic points. First, governments and the private sector at least know what they need to do to reduce energy consumption. The question remains whether stakeholders will really stick to their emission targets and make the radical changes needed to avoid the worst-case scenario.
“Having the right policies, infrastructure and technology in place to enable changes to our lifestyles and behavior can result in a 40-70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This offers significant untapped potential,” wrote IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair Priyadarshi Shukla in the report.
Second, although the average annual global greenhouse gas emissions between 2010 and 2019 were the highest in human history, growth has slowed. Countries have adopted policies that have reduced deforestation and expanded the use of renewable energy sources. Costs for solar, wind and lithium-ion batteries have also fallen by 85% in the last decade, making them a more viable option than ever before.
The report warns that by 2050, solar and wind energy should provide most of the world’s energy. The report also reflects the opinion of most climatologists that the world should immediately and quickly limit the use of fossil fuels.
But reaching a global consensus on reducing fossil fuel use is easier said than done. China, the world’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, has increased domestic coal consumption since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has led to rising energy prices. EU and US leaders have expressed concern that global demand for coal will only increase as countries need to burn more coal due to higher natural gas prices.