Only 3 Years Left to Avoid Climate Catastrophe: UN Report

Almost every country will have to make voluntary and rapid emissions cuts to limit the global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Only 3 Years Left to Avoid Climate Catastrophe: UN Report

Photo Credit: Unsplash/ Matt Palmer

Limiting global warming will require a transformation of the energy sector

Highlights
  • No action would lead to more fires, drought, and storms
  • Global warming will eviscerate most of the coral reefs
  • Many low-lying regions may become uninhabitable

The world must cut down greenhouse gas emissions by half by 2030 to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change, a new UN report has warned. It added that unless emissions peak in the next three years, the world will experience extreme climate events. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said if urgent action was not taken, the world will fail to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, leading to a future of more fires, drought, and storms. It will also eviscerate most of the coral reefs and make many low-lying regions uninhabitable — resulting in more tensions around the world.

The present level of greenhouse gas emissions is likely to create twice as much warming: about 3.2 degrees Celsius by 2100. To limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, almost every country will have to make voluntary and rapid emissions cuts.

“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,” IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee said.

In response to the IPCC's findings, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the world will become uninhabitable unless countries rethink their energy policies. “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,” said Guterres.

The report, Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change, released a few days ago, said limiting global warming will require a transformation of the energy sector – reduction in fossil fuel use, widespread electrification, and use of alternative fuels such as hydrogen.

The report also listed some encouraging efforts and increasing climate action over the past years. It said while the annual greenhouse emissions between 2010-19 were the highest in history, the rate of growth has slowed. Also, costs of solar and wind energy and batteries have decreased by up to 85 percent since 2010. The report said several policies and laws have been formulated to enhance energy efficiency, reduce deforestation and accelerate the deployment of renewable energy.

IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair Priyadarshi Shukla said changes in our lifestyle and behaviour, in addition to having the right policies, infrastructure, and technology, can lead to a 40-70 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. “This offers significant untapped potential,” Shukla wrote in the report.


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