IPCC report pushes for halved emissions by 2030
In 2010–2019, average annual global greenhouse gas emissions were at their highest levels in human history, but the rate of growth has since slowed. And while immediate and deep emissions reductions are required across all sectors in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C, there is increasing evidence of climate action.
That’s according to the authors of the IPCC Working Group III report ‘Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change’, which was approved on 4 April by 195 member governments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It is the third instalment of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), which will be completed this year.
“We are at a crossroads. The decisions we make now can secure a liveable future. We have the tools and know-how required to limit warming,” 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.”
According to the report, limiting global warming will require major transitions in the energy sector. This will involve a substantial reduction in fossil fuel use, widespread electrification, improved energy efficiency and the use of alternative fuels (such as hydrogen). Reducing emissions in industry will meanwhile involve producing and using materials more efficiently, reusing and recycling products, and minimising waste.
“Having the right policies, infrastructure and technology in place to enable changes to our lifestyles and behaviour can result in a 40–70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This offers significant untapped potential,” said IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair Priyadarshi Shukla. “The evidence also shows that these lifestyle changes can improve our health and wellbeing.”
In the scenarios assessed by the IPCC, limiting warming to around 1.5°C requires global greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025 at the latest, and be reduced by 43% by 2030; at the same time, methane would also need to be reduced by about a third. Even if we do this, the report says, it is almost inevitable that we will temporarily exceed this temperature threshold but could return to below it by the end of the century.
“It’s now or never if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F),” said IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair Jim Skea. “Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible.”
The global temperature will stabilise when carbon dioxide emissions reach net zero, the report says. For 1.5°C, this means achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions globally in the early 2050s; for 2°C, it is in the early 2070s. The assessment shows that limiting warming to 2°C still requires global greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025 at the latest, and be reduced by a quarter by 2030.
“Climate change is the result of more than a century of unsustainable energy and land use, lifestyles and patterns of consumption and production,” Skea concluded. “This report shows how taking action now can move us towards a fairer, more sustainable world.”
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