Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

UN Climate Panel: Emissions Must Fall Rapidly by 2030 to Prevent Catastrophic Climate Change

Climate

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its highly anticipated report Sunday on what needs to be done to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The answer: social and technological change on a scale for which "there is no documented historic precedent," The Washington Post reported.


The IPCC, a UN body formed to give policy makers accurate scientific information about climate change, was asked to prepare the report as part of the Paris agreement. The final draft included the work of 91 researchers from 40 countries and cited more than 6,000 scientific resources, the Huffington Post reported. It was released following a summit in Incheon, South Korea.

The report offers a narrow window for rapid climate action: By 2030, emissions would have to fall to 45 percent below 2010 levels. By 2050, all or nearly all coal burning must stop.

"It's like a deafening, piercing smoke alarm going off in the kitchen. We have to put out the fire," UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim told The Washington Post.

While the report laid out the difficulties of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees, it also reinforced the importance of doing so. Allowing the planet to warm a full 2 degrees, the upper limit set up by the Paris agreement, could have devastating consequences.

Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees instead of 2 would:

  • Prevent 10 additional centimeters (approximately 4 inches) of sea level rise.
  • Lower the chance of ice-free Arctic summers from once-per-decade to once-per-century.
  • Prevent permafrost thaw in an Alaska-size chunk of the Arctic.
  • Limit the die-off of tropical coral reefs to 70 to 90 percent instead of 99 percent.
  • Save hundreds of millions of people from climate risk and poverty by 2050.

"1.5 degrees is the new 2 degrees," Greenpeace International Executive Director Jennifer Morgan told The Washington Post.

Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees would also require technological innovation. The percentage of electricity the world gets from renewable energy would have to increase from the current 24 percent to 50 to 60 percent within the next decade. Transportation would have to rapidly increase its transition to electric vehicles and fossil fuel plants would need to be equipped with carbon capture and storage technology to prevent greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere and then store them in the ground.

The report also calls for converting land from agriculture to forests for carbon storage, and an untested technology called bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, or BECCS, which works by growing crops for energy, then capturing the carbon and storing it underground.

Experts agree that ambitious negative emissions strategies require international cooperation on a massive scale.

"Even if it is technically possible, without aligning the technical, political and social aspects of feasibility, it is not going to happen," Center for International Climate Research in Oslo Research Director Glen Peters told The Washington Post. "To limit warming below 1.5 C, or 2 C for that matter, requires all countries and all sectors to act."

But that kind of cooperation has been made more difficult by the decision of U.S. President Donald Trump to withdraw the high-emitting country from the Paris agreement.

"Today the world's leading scientific experts collectively reinforced what mother nature has made clear—that we need to undergo an urgent and rapid transformation to a global clean energy economy," former U.S. Vice President and climate action advocate Al Gore told CNN. "Unfortunately, the Trump administration has become a rogue outlier in its shortsighted attempt to prop up the dirty fossil fuel industries of the past. The administration is in direct conflict with American businesses, states, cities and citizens leading the transformation."

Former U.S. Sec. of Energy Ernest Moniz listens during the National Clean Energy Summit 9.0 on October 13, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Isaac Brekken / Getty Images for National Clean Energy Summit

By Jake Johnson

Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Climate change can evoke intense feelings, but a conversational approach can help. Reed Kaestner / Getty Images

Anger, anxiety, overwhelm … climate change can evoke intense feelings.

"It's easy to feel dwarfed in the context of such a global systemic issue," says psychologist Renée Lertzman.

She says that when people experience these feelings, they often shut down and push information away. So to encourage climate action, she advises not bombarding people with frightening facts.

"When we lead with information, we are actually unwittingly walking right into a situation that is set up to undermine our efforts," she says.

She says if you want to engage people on the topic, take a compassionate approach. Ask people what they know and want to learn. Then have a conversation.

This conversational approach may seem at odds with the urgency of the issue, but Lertzman says it can get results faster.

"When we take a compassion-based approach, we are actively disarming defenses so that people are actually more willing and able to respond and engage quicker," she says. "And we don't have time right now to mess around, and so I do actually come to this topic with a sense of urgency… We do not have time to not take this approach."

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media
Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

Trending

A rare North Atlantic right whale is seen off Cape Cod Bay on April 14, 2019 near Provincetown, Massachusetts. Don Emmert / AFP / Getty Images

An extremely rare North Atlantic right whale calf was found dead off the North Carolina coast on Friday.

Read More Show Less
Sprinklers irrigate a field of onions near a Castilian village in Spain. According to a new study, the average farm size in the EU has almost doubled since the 1960s. miguelangelortega / Moment / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

A new report released Tuesday details the "shocking" state of global land equality, saying the problem is worse than thought, rising, and "cannot be ignored."

Read More Show Less
Members of the San Carlos Apache Nation protest to protect parts of Oak Flat from a copper mining company on July 22, 2015 in Washington, DC. Brendan Smialowski / AFP / Getty Images

In yet another attack on the environment before leaving office, the Trump administration is seeking to transfer ownership of San Carlos Apache holy ground in Oak Flat, Arizona, to a copper mining company.

Read More Show Less