The IPCC has released its findings from its 6th climate report. Despite a global awareness of the climate change situation, changes aren’t being made quick enough. Somehow, carbon emissions are at an all-time high and the world is still on a track to meet disaster.
The UN climate report blames continued investment in fossil fuel infrastructure and weak public policy initiatives. Instead, governments should be transitioning to renewable energy like wind and solar. And the electrification of the transportation industry is an immediate need.
What Is The UN Climate Report?
The UN climate report is a fact-based report covering human-induced climate change. Climate change is being driven by carbon emissions, pollution, deforestation and habitat fragmentation. The United Nations (UN) is an international organization with 193 member states. The goal of the UN is to pursue peace, human rights, and global cooperation.
The IPCC, or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, is a highly respected authority on climate change. The IPCC releases a climate report every 5-7 year. This report’s goal is to assess the current climate change patterns and projections.
The 1.5 °C Goal
In 2015, 196 countries signed the Paris Agreement. This international climate change treaty set the goal to limit global warming to a 1.5 °C increase. The warming reached a 1° C increase above pre-industrial levels just 2 years later. The last climate report, published in October 2018, found that temperatures would hit the 1.5°C increase by 2040 given humanity’s current path.
2022 UN Climate Report
A summary of the newest UN climate report, titled Climate Change 2022: Mitigation Of Climate Change was published in April 2022. All member states approved the report. This 3,000-page report continues to focus on meeting the Paris Agreement goal of only a 1.5 °C increase.
Scientists believe the severest climate impacts can be limited by remaining under 1.5 °C . But it’s vital to stay below 2°C to prevent massive droughts, famine, sea level rise, habitat destruction, and other severe weather. While the difference between 1.5°C and 2°C seems trivial, it’s not from a climate change perspective. That half a degree difference could have disastrous effects across the globe.
Ramp Up Solar And Wind Energy
Moving away from carbon-based fuels remains the most important part of meeting the temperature goal. The 2014 IPCC report recognized solar and wind were prohibitively expensive. The report understood this would prevent rapid investment and adoption. Thankfully, solar and wind energy costs have dropped in the last 10 years.
With wind energy costs down 55% and solar energy costs down 85%, the IPCC would now like to see much higher rates of adoption. Currently, these two forms of renewable energy only fuel 8% of the grid. Strategic government intervention could help this percentage rise rapidly.
Fossil Fuel Infrastructure Has To Go
The right infrastructure is vital to meeting the goals and transitioning away from fossil fuels. Fossil fuel infrastructure is massive, especially in developed nations. These developed nations continue to spend billions on fossil fuel infrastructure improvements. Consider the EU, still in support of the EastMed gas pipeline. Over €13 billion is projected to fund 30 fossil fuel infrastructure projects pulled from the PCI, or Projects of Common Interest list.
Electrification of transport is the most effective way to lower emissions for developed nations. Make sure this is powered by a clean power grid and the reduction is even higher. According to the report, the 1.5°C limit won’t be reached if carbon dioxide levels continue to climb at the current rate. Instead, CO2 emissions need to peak and start falling by 50% before 2030.
Countries need to be prepared to take a loss on fossil fuel infrastructure. The report recommends abandoning all current or planned projects for coal-fired power plants, pipelines, and oil drilling. Every euro spent on fossil fuel infrastructure is one less towards electrification of transport. Coal should be abandoned immediately, with oil and gas needing to zero out by 2050.
Policy Action Remains Relaxed
Public policy is trending in the right direction, but not at the right pace. Improve efficiency of vehicles and accelerated renewable energy adoption. Policies are proving effective but need to be scaled up. Governments can refer to the UN climate report when developing climate strategies.
Countries with developed economies are prioritizing reducing emissions as national policy goals. Developing countries have more difficulties prioritizing global warming initiatives. Developing governments are focused on social and economic inequalities and infrastructure issues.
According to the IPCC report, only 24 countries are successfully reducing their emissions. The current relaxed manner in which governments are approaching climate change is concerning. Countries should reward companies for having net-zero emissions. Industries that cannot reasonably reduce emissions, should offset the impact with other actions.
Ultimately, the IPCC warns that ‘it’s now or never’. If countries around the world don’t double-down and focus on reducing their emissions, we’ll blow pass the 1.5° limit. Emissions still need to drop in nearly all sectors. At this point, it’s unknown if we’ll even meet the 2°C limit, because emissions need to peak force 2025.
Governments everywhere need to immediately reassess their public policy actions. Mitigating global warming needs to be national policy number one. Without immediate action, the world will be approaching uninhabitable by 2050. For future posterity, humanity has to unite and focus on this common goal, starting now.