The Next Three Years Are Crucial To Fighting Climate Change, Climate Scientists Say

According to a new report by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the next three years are crucial for fighting climate change. Achieving the best possible future, with fewer climate disasters and human suffering, requires limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, the report warns that greenhouse gas levels must start decreasing by 2025 to make this happen.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres emphasized the urgency of the situation, stating that we are currently on a fast track to climate disaster. The consequences of not addressing the issue are not fiction or exaggeration; they are based on scientific predictions. Without immediate action, the world is on a trajectory towards global warming of more than double the target of 1.5 degrees Celsius.

In 2016, countries signed the Paris climate agreement to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius, ideally at 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, the world has already warmed by 1.1 degrees Celsius, and this new report highlights the need for immediate and radical changes in how we live, including energy and food consumption, building practices, and transportation.

Jim Skea, one of the report’s co-authors from Imperial College London, stresses that it is now or never if we want to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Without significant emissions reductions across all sectors, accomplishing this goal will be impossible.

The report, titled “Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change,” is the third and final installment of the IPCC’s Sixth Climate Assessment. The previous installments focused on summarizing current climate impacts and potential future scenarios, as well as listing adaptation strategies.

The report reveals that global carbon dioxide equivalent emissions reached approximately 59 gigatons in 2019, a 12% increase compared to 2010 and a staggering 54% increase compared to 1990. It is crucial to note that the blame for rising emissions falls disproportionately on a small percentage of households responsible for a significant share of global greenhouse gas emissions.

To prevent widespread climate damage, the report emphasizes the need to immediately reverse the current emissions trend. The suggested actions include peaking global emissions by 2025, reducing emissions by 43% by 2030, and decreasing methane emissions by 34% by 2030. Furthermore, achieving net-zero emissions is crucial by 2050, meaning the release of emissions into the atmosphere should match the amount being removed from it.

Even if these targets are met, scientists warn that global average temperatures may temporarily exceed the 1.5-degree Celsius threshold before returning below it by the end of the century. Keeping the 2.0-degree Celsius limit within reach requires peaking global emissions by 2025, reducing emissions by 27% by 2030, and achieving net-zero emissions by the early 2070s.

A significant way to reduce emissions is by rapidly transitioning away from fossil fuels and embracing renewable and alternative energy sources. Climate modeling suggests that limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius involves reducing global coal, oil, and gas use by approximately 95%, 60%, and 45%, respectively, compared to 2019 levels.

Jim Skea emphasizes that climate change is the consequence of more than a century of unsustainable energy and land use practices. Taking action now can lead us towards a fairer and more sustainable world.

The release of the report coincides with the energy crisis triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine. This crisis has prompted discussions and efforts in Europe, the United States, and other regions to expedite the transition away from Russian fossil fuels.

Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization, highlights the connection between the conflict and the fight against climate change. He suggests that the escalation of war could speed up the reduction of fossil energy use and hasten the transition to greener alternatives, while also recognizing the potential challenges to climate change mitigation if interests are affected negatively.

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Written by Western Reader

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