A new UN report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made for grim reading as it pointed out that harmful carbon emissions where never higher in human history than between 2010-2019. Using it as proof that the world is on a “fast track” to disaster, UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, insisted that unless governments everywhere reassess their energy policies, the world will be uninhabitable in years to come.
Scientists say that it’s ‘now or never’ to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees and so the IPCC is calling on all countries to reduce their fossil fuel use substantially, extend access to electricity, improve energy efficiency and increase the use of alternative fuels, such as hydrogen.
If we do not curb carbon emissions, António Guterres warned we will face extensive flooding, unprecedented heatwaves, terrifying storms, widespread water shortages and the extinction of a million species of plants and animals. He added: “This is not fiction or exaggeration. It is what science tells us will result from our current energy policies. We are on a pathway to global warming of more than double the 1.5-degree (Celsius, or 2.7-degrees Fahrenheit) limit” that was agreed in Paris in 2015.
Providing the scientific proof to back up that damning assessment, the IPCC report - written by hundreds of leading scientists and agreed by 195 countries - noted that greenhouse gas emissions generated by human activity, have increased since 2010 “across all major sectors globally”.
While part of the problem is caused by high-emitting governments and corporations, an increasing share of emissions can be attributed to towns and cities. The report added that worryingly, the emission reductions clawed back in the last decade or so, “have been less than emissions increases, from rising global activity levels in industry, energy supply, transport, agriculture and buildings”.
Striking a more positive note - and insisting that it is still possible to halve emissions by 2030 - the IPCC urged governments to ramp up action to curb emissions. The UN body also welcomed the significant decrease in the cost of renewable energy sources since 2010, by as much as 85 per cent for solar and wind energy, and batteries.
“We are at a crossroads. The decisions we make now can secure a liveable future,” said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee. “I am encouraged by climate action being taken in many countries. There are policies, regulations and market instruments that are proving effective. If these are scaled up and applied more widely and equitably, they can support deep emissions reductions and stimulate innovation.”
To limit global warming to around 1.5C (2.7°F), the IPCC report insisted that global greenhouse gas emissions would have to peak “before 2025 at the latest, and be reduced by 43 per cent by 2030”.
Jim Skea, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III, which released the latest report said, “It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F); without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible.”
You can view and download the IPCC, Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change report online at via the un.org website.