It’s Now Or Never, If We Want To Limit Global Warming To 1.5°C: Head Of UN Climate Panel

By Shailja Tripathi February 05, 2022

Despite all the challenges and lofty targets, the world can still meet climate targets if all sectors take up mitigation efforts immediately, says the latest report by IPCC

It’s Now Or Never, If We Want To Limit Global Warming To 1.5°C: Head Of UN Climate Panel
. Photo: AP

Even though we are not on track to limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2100, there are options available in every sector to halve the carbon emissions by 2030, says the WGIII report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The report suggesting a mine of solutions came with significant warnings: It said that average annual GHG or emissions during 2010-2019 were higher than in any previous decade. “It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C," said IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair Jim Skea at the briefing.

The Working Group III (WGIII) report, the third report of the IPCC's AR6 assessment cycle, shows the path to achieve climate targets by focusing on climate change mitigation. It says that it is not impossible to achieve Paris Agreement targets however ambitious they may be. One of the ways to achieve it is through increased financial investments. 

The WGIII report is preceded by two reports on ‘The Physical Basis’ (WGI) and 'Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability' (WGII) released in recent months. It has been co-authored by 278 authors from 65 countries, has 354 Contributing authors, and is approved by 195 governments.

At the IPCC India briefing, Professor Navroz Dubash of Centre of Policy Research, one of the authors of the report, said, “Globally, emissions could be reduced by more than 25 per cent by 2030 at under USD 20 tCO2-eq (Carbon Dioxide equivalent which measures the environmental impact of one tonne of these greenhouse gases in comparison to the impact of one tonne of C02) with a further 25 per cent at under USD 100CO2-eq. These options span a wide range of opportunities across energy, land, buildings, transport and demand shifts. For countries with growing emissions, it is also important to be attentive to whether new investments will lock-in high emissions.”

The report notes that global GHG emissions are projected to peak between 2020 and at the latest before 2025 in global modelled pathways that limit warming to 1.5°C with no or limited overshoot and in those that limit warming to 2°C and assume immediate action.

The comprehensive document considers options to cut down emissions across various sectors spanning energy, transport, agriculture, buildings and industry.

Emphasis on clean energy

Laying emphasis on clean energy and storage, the report urges countries to shift to renewable energy. It reveals that “2020 saw 280 gigawatts of new capacity added, a 45 per cent increase over the previous year and the largest year-on-year increase since 1999.” The report cites a study published in 2020 that observed that 24 countries managed to reduce emissions by building up renewables, among other policies. Most of those countries happened to be from Europe and no country in Asia or Africa made it to the list.

Reducing emissions in the transport sector

While low-GHG emissions technologies can reduce transport sector emissions in developed countries, it can limit emissions growth in developing countries. EVs powered by low emissions electricity, sustainable biofuels and low emissions hydrogen, can support mitigation of CO2 emissions from shipping, aviation, and heavy-duty land transport but require production process improvements and cost reductions.

Phasing out fossil-fuel infrastructure

Developed countries must decarbonise their power sectors by 2035, with developing countries following. All coal fired power plants need to close by 2040. The International

Energy Agency says meeting climate targets means an immediate end to new investment in fossil fuels, and a global net-zero energy sector by 2040.

The report has provided solutions to undertake development while persevering with mitigation efforts.