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Orange News: The IPCC’s first two reports have signalled code red for humanity. The latest IPCC Working Group 3 report, published in early April, has been labelled as our best last hope. It reveals that global climate action remains way off track.

Global greenhouse gas emissions have increased 12% over the last 10 years. The window to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees has narrowed.

Our collective fate has begun to cross the Rubicon. If we can ignite transformation to reduce carbon emissions across all sectors and systems, we may avoid the worst climate impacts.

The latest IPCC report makes it clear that during the last decade, global greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise higher than ever before in human history, reaching about 59 gigatons of CO2 equivalent in 2019. The cumulative net CO2 emissions of the last decade were about 410 gigatons of CO2, which is about the same amount as the remaining carbon budget for keeping warming to 1.5 degrees centigrade.

The current nationally determined contributions (NDC) to 2030 would make it impossible to limit warming to 1.5 with no or limited overshoot. Limiting warming to 1.5 or two degrees implies accelerated mitigation actions at all scales, which our current trajectory of actions fails to carry out.

Therefore, our likelihood of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees with no or limited overshoot is dropping as global GHG emissions continue to rise, leading both to higher near-term emissions pathways through 2030 and higher cumulative CO2 emissions in the atmosphere until the time we can reach Net-Zero.

Overshooting 1.5 degrees of global warming will lead to irreversible impacts. It further underscores how urgently we need to impact to take ramped up action to reduce emissions. Holding global temperature to 1.5 degrees is possible, but only if we act immediately.

The IPCC report is an urgent call for action that aims to peak emissions before 2025 and to nearly half GHG emissions by 2030 to set the world on a credible pathway to reach net-zero CO2 emissions by mid-century. Many pathways in the report show how the possibility that limiting global warming to two degrees with no overshoot or to 1.5 degrees with limited overshoot, would require accelerated action, pace and transformations.

The key actions we must take are known. They include scaling up renewable energy, phasing out unabated fossil fuel infrastructure, electrifying the industry, transport sector, greening buildings, halting and reversing deforestation, and investing in innovation. Innovation has dedicated a key role in this IPCC working group three report.

The report also reaffirms that all pathways that likely limit warming to two degrees or below involves some amount of carbon dioxide removal. The deployment of carbon removal to counterbalance the increasing emissions is necessary.

Reaching emission targets requires transformational change across all major systems and sectors, as well as the immediate scale-up of carbon removal. Our planet has no tolerance for new unabated fossil fuel infrastructure. We have to put a full stop to such assets. We must also work to retrofit decarbonise and phase out existing fossil fuel infrastructure to keep the 1.5 degree warming goal alive.

You may think the individual effort is small, however, the new element in this report is also an emphasis on how shifting lifestyles can play a significant role in mitigating climate change. As such, policy measures that incentivise these behavioural changes will make them easier, less disruptive, and more equitable and accessible across households across different regions.

The tools to decarbonise are at our fingertips. What we need is the leaders to wield them, there is some good news that we must urgently build upon. While GHG emissions have continued to grow in the last decade, the growth rate has been slower.

Meanwhile, at least 24 countries have consistently reduced GHG emissions for over a decade and development is that there has been rapid deployment and falling costs of renewable energy, which has massively outpaced and exceeded expectations.

But having said that climate finance is needed for both mitigation and adaptation. The amount of money that has been pledged or delivered for climate change and mitigation and adaptation remains well short of what is required, and finance flows must increase to prepare for and also prevent climate change. Rich countries are falling short of the commitments that they have made on financing. And, more importantly, in fact, the cost of inaction in the future will far exceed the cost of proactive preventive action that we can take not.

A call for action. Climate Finance for mitigation must increase at least six fold by 2030. If we have to limit warming by below two degrees and closing the gap in climate finance across systems and regions will be crucial and critical, particularly in developing countries to enable them to accelerate mitigation actions for a secure future.


Originally published on Orange News on 20 Apr 2022. Written by Lawrence Iu.