The UN climate change panel blasted governments and businesses in its latest update, calling for a “substantial reduction” in global fossil fuel use, and at a faster rate, to avoid the worst impacts of global warming.
the last report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicates that by 2030, greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by at least 43% to avoid a warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century. It is a key degree target set in 2015 at a climate summit in Paris and protects the world from the worst havoc of global warming damage.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the report reveals “a litany of unfulfilled climate promises” by the public and private sectors, which have made net-zero emissions pledges but appear to be well behind in achievement of these goals. This is largely, according to the UN, because demand for WBS00 oil,
and NG00 gas,
remain high. The report also denounces the continued degradation of forests for agriculture, which reduces the natural environment that sucks up carbon.
“It’s a record of shame, cataloging the empty promises that put us firmly on the path to an unlivable world,” he said. “Some government and business leaders say one thing but do another. In other words, they are lying. And the results will be catastrophic.
The natural gas industry, for its part, has said its network of pipelines will be essential to complete the shift to more renewables and is advocating for a gas blend with green hydrogen, for example.
“Today, the IPCC said existing and planned fossil fuel projects are more than the climate can handle… The report also warns investors of stranded fossil fuel assets that will amount to $4 trillion in a world where warming is limited to 2°C, and even more in a world where it is limited to 1.5°C,” said a statement from a group of investors and nonprofit environmental activists called the Stop the Money Pipeline coalition.
“The damning report comes as investors prepare to vote on a list of shareholder resolutions at the annual general meetings (AGMs) of the six largest U.S. banks and several major U.S. insurance companies,” the coalition said. “The resolutions call on financial companies to halt all financing activities for the expansion of new fossil fuels.”
The report follows another from the UN in February, which said the drivers of climate change are already accumulating faster than much of the world can adapt. And in August, the panel released more accurate and warmer predictions for the 21st century than the last time such a report was released, in 2013.
Emissions peak in just 3 years
The latest UN report also calls for emissions to peak in the next few years, before 2025 at the latest.
“We have a really, really tough job ahead of us,” said Stephanie Roe, lead author of the report and senior climate and global energy scientist at the World Wildlife Fund, who called for deep cuts and large scale over the next decade.
Jim Skea, co-chair of the IPCC, warned that the next few years will be crucial.
“It’s now or never if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C,” Skea said in a statement.
Despite the Paris Voluntary Pact, temperatures have already risen more than 2°F (1.1°C) since pre-industrial times, leading to a measurable increase in disasters such as flash floods, extreme heat, hurricanes more intense and longer forest fires, putting human lives at risk. and cost governments hundreds of billions of dollars. This includes billions in the United States alone just for flood damage.
Emissions in 2019 were about 12% higher than they were in 2010 and 54% higher than in 1990, Skea said.
The growth rate has slowed from 2.1% per year at the start of this century to 1.3% per year between 2010 and 2019, according to the report’s authors. But they expressed “great confidence” that unless countries step up efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the planet will average 2.4-3.5C (4.3 to 6.3°F) warmer by the end of the century. Vulnerable populations will be hardest hit.
The report, which runs to thousands of pages, does not blame specific countries, but the figures show greater responsibility for pollution on developed countries, but stronger negative impact on developing countries.
The UN panel said 40% of emissions since then have come from Europe and North America. Just over 12% can be attributed to East Asia, which includes China. But China took the place of the world’s leading polluter to the detriment of the United States in the mid-2000s.
There is hope, the report says
The authors were encouraging that technological developments could help.
This could require measures such as removing CO2 from the atmosphere by natural or artificial means, but also potentially risky technologies such as pump aerosols into the sky to reflect sunlight.
And they are encouraged by increasingly cheap solar and wind ICLNs,
electricity, electrification of transport, less meat consumption, more efficient use of resources and financial support for poor countries unable to pay for such measures without aid.
“[We are] particularly pleased to see the IPCC formally recognize the importance of an advanced set of climate solutions such as carbon capture, hydrogen and nuclear energy,” said Armond Cohen, Executive Director of the Clean Air Task Force.
“This problem is bigger than any industry or solution. This is a fundamental retooling of our energy system in record time and we will need more options on the table, not less,” he said.
A gesture often described as a “low-hanging fruit” by scientists is to seal methane leaks mines, wells and landfills that release the potent but short-lived greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. Major nations, including China and the United States, have made such a pledge.
Some experts say efforts to capture carbon or drastically reduce methane leaks are unfeasible with current technologies, and therefore cost more than preventing emissions in the first place.
Vulnerable nations said the report showed big polluters needed to step up their efforts ahead of the upcoming UN climate summit in Egypt this fall.
The Associated Press contributed.