Climate scientists say next three years are crucial to combat climate change

The best possible future – one with less climate catastrophe, extinction and human suffering – involves limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. But for this to happen, a The new report warns that greenhouse gas levels must begin to fall by 2025.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Monday in the release of a new report by the United Nations’ preeminent climate agency, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“This is not fiction or exaggeration,” he added. “That’s what science tells us will result from our current energy policies. We are on the path to more than double 1.5 degrees of global warming.”

In 2016, practically every country that signed the Paris climate accord pledged to avert the worst climate impacts by limiting global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius, ideally 1, 5 degrees Celsius, compared to pre-industrial levels. But the world has warming up 1.1 degrees CAnd this new report makes it clear that the goal of warmer temperatures could soon be out of reach if people don’t immediately and radically change the way they live, from the way they get energy and food to the way they live. they build and move.

“It is now or never if we want to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit),” said Jim Skea of ​​Imperial College London, one of the co-authors of the study. reported, said in a statement. “Without immediate and far-reaching emissions reductions across all sectors, it will not be possible.”

Skea is one of hundreds of scientists worldwide who contributed to the report titled “Climate Change 2022: Mitigating Climate Change”, the third and final part of the Second Climate Assessment. six of the IPCC. The previous installments, published in recent months, focused on Summary of climate impacts already here and what could happen, as well as List ways to adapt to these effects.

In the face of increasingly severe climate impacts, from increasing heat waves and floods to increasing food disruptions, humans have added fuel to the fire over the past decade by continuing to emitting more carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than ever before.

The measured global average emissions were 59 gigatons of carbon dioxide equivalent in 2019, about 12 percent higher than 2010 levels and 54 percent higher than 1990, according to the new report. This is an amazing increase.

But the cause of the increased emissions does not belong to everyone.

“The 10% of households with the highest emissions per capita contribute a disproportionately large share of [greenhouse gas] emissions,” according to a summary of the new report. For example, in 2019, the Small Island Developing Countries were estimated to have emitted 0.6% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

The only way to prevent widespread climate damage is to end this trend now. According to the report, to keep the 1.5°C future alive, people worldwide must generally peak their emissions by 2025 and then reduce their emissions by 43% by 2030. The key is to cut greenhouse gas methane emissions by 34% by 2030.

Ultimately, by 2050, humans must achieve net zero emissions, which is when they’re emitting into the atmosphere the same levels of emissions they’re emitting out of it.

Even if all these deadlines are met, the scientists warn there is still a chance that global average temperatures will temporarily exceed, or “beyond” 1.5 degrees Celsius, before falling back below. that level by the end of the century.

According to the report, future-proofing even 2.0 degrees Celsius involves peaking in global emissions in 2025, then reducing emissions by 27% by 2030, and achieving net zero emissions by early 2070s.

Perhaps the single biggest way to cut emissions is to quickly switch from fossil fuels to other renewable and alternative forms of energy. Climate modeling suggests limiting warming to 1.5 degrees would involve cutting global coal, oil and gas use by 2050 by about 95%, 60% and 45% compared to 2019 levels.

“Climate change is the result of more than a century of unsustainable energy and land uses, lifestyles and ways of consuming and producing,” Skea said. “This report shows how acting now can help us move towards a fairer, more sustainable world.”

The report comes as Russia’s war in Ukraine has sent energy costs soaring and likewise, conversations in Europe, the United States and elsewhere have accelerated. Russia’s transition away from fossil fuels.

“We are facing challenging times at the moment. We already know about this devastating war in Ukraine,” said Petteri Taalas, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization, at a news conference on Monday, before connecting the ground war to limited combat. Climate Change. “In the best case, this will accelerate the reduction of fossil energy use and also accelerate the green transition. In the worst case scenario, the benefits of climate change mitigation will be challenged because of this development”.

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