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The U.N. climate science panel’s latest report found an average annual emissions increase of 1.3% since 2010. In 2019, emissions reached 59 gigatonnes, a 12% jump from the 52.5 gigatonnes registered in 2010. Despite this, the report says that the world shows progress toward reducing emissions growth.
In the previous decade, emissions grew by an average of 2.1% each year, nearly twice the growth rate in the decade under study. The lower emission increase rate indicates that, with continued effort, the world could actually significantly cut emissions.
Many industries contributed to the continued increase, including transportation, energy and agriculture. Despite renewable energy and electric vehicle expansion, the world’s appetite for fossil fuels remains.
The report now says the only way out of this conundrum is immediate, ambitious climate action. Radical action to cut emissions in half by 2030 is necessary to keep temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius. As the new IPCC report explains, if the current emissions trajectory continues unchanged, the globe will warm up by 3.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial temperatures. Further, even if the world implements current climate commitments, the planet would still fail to avoid a 1.5 degrees Celsius rise. Instead, Earth could experience an up to 2.2-degree rise.
A major concern blocking climate action has always been the economy. Policymakers resist taking action for fear of an economic crisis. The IPCC report indicates that fears of immediate crisis fail to consider long-term climate change issues. While limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius would likely slow economic growth by 1.3-2.7% by 2050, the long-term effects will likely benefit the economy.
To achieve such a huge change, governments must enact policies that facilitate lifestyle changes such as reducing car use, changing energy sources and encouraging plant-based diets. Of course, industries must also enact changes. As the report explains, “reducing emissions in industry will involve using materials more efficiently, reusing and recycling products and minimising waste,” among other measures.
While advocating for continued change, the IPCC report also highlights the world’s green improvements. For example, solar energy now costs about 85% less than in 2010. Wind power is also 55% cheaper.
The report however has some positive aspects. Over the last years, there has been about an 85% decrease in solar power costs. Wind power is also 55% cheaper than it was in 2010. Such aspects are pushing more people toward solar. Slowing deforestation rates and positive renewable energy policies in some areas also signal change.
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