The UN demands an immediate reduction of the gases that cause the climate crisis: “It is now or never”
The scientific message is clear: if greenhouse gas emissions are not drastically cut, it is impossible to contain the global warming that is altering the climate. “A rapid, deep, even immediate reduction”, demands the UN Scientific Panel (IPCC) in its latest report.
The UN warns that the climate crisis is accelerating and all its damages are getting worse
The calculations shown in this global assessment of climate change mitigation do not lie. Containing the extra heat of the Earth at 1.5ºC implies, physically, that, at the latest in 2025, CO2 emissions fall and in 2030 they are half. “Stabilizing the temperature requires that there be net zero emissions in 2050”, repeat the IPCC scientists. The difference in damage caused by stopping warming at 2ºC instead of 1.5 is very significant. It implies admitting too many irreversible effects on health, safety and ecosystems.
The thing is, the numbers don't add up. On the one hand, between 2010 and 2019, the annual average of greenhouse gas emissions has been at its maximum, so the accumulation in the atmosphere has not stopped growing. On the other hand, the policies currently implemented by the countries, far from curbing global warming to 1.5ºC or, at least, 2ºC at the end of the century, predict an increase in emissions beyond 2025 and, therefore, “superheating will go to 3.2ºC”.
It's now or never. Without these reductions in all the sectors involved, it will be impossible
Jim Skea, co-director of the investigation
"It's now or never. Without these reductions in all the sectors involved, it will be impossible", assured the co-director of the investigation, Jim Skea, who stressed that climate change is "the result of more than a century of unsustainable use of energy and land, in addition to of consumption and production models.
Future warming depends on the present
It is a question of now or never because the peak of warming that the Earth will experience in future decades depends directly on the accumulation of greenhouse gases that are currently caused by human activities. The CO2 that is being released right now –which has been active for hundreds of years– is added to that released since the end of the 19th century, to which is added, for example, methane, to thicken the gaseous crust that retains heat in the planet.
The report highlights that cuts in emissions, the abandonment of fossil fuels and the change towards clean energy sources are "the only real option to avoid runaway climate change", analyzes the Climate Action Network that brings together 1,500 organizations from everyone.
"Achieving and maintaining net zero emissions causes warming to decline after peaking," the researchers say. But, at the same time, it has been shown that the accumulation of emissions that existing and planned fossil fuel infrastructures will entail exceeds that which would allow limiting warming to 1.5ºC.
Once again, the accounts do not come out so where to reduce?
Energy: Weaning Off Oil, Gas, and Coal
All possible formulas to achieve the objective of limiting warming to an extra 1.5ºC or 2ºC go through eliminating a large part of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal from power generation. “All the models include moving from these fuels to renewable sources or those that have carbon capture systems,” says the report.
The capture system is a strategy deployed by fossil fuel producers who claim that they can trap CO2 emissions and prevent them from settling in the atmosphere. The report says that for this to work, they would need to capture 90% of thermal plant emissions and 50-80% of methane leaks.
In this sense, the IPCC explains that the costs of generating electricity with renewable sources have been constantly lowering since 2010. The cost per megawatt of solar energy has fallen by 85% and that of wind energy by 55%, indicates the work.
Industry: a different way of producing and consuming
Net zero emissions in industry "are a challenge, but it is possible to achieve them," says the IPCC. The links where it can be manufactured releasing less greenhouse gases are multiple. The first, and most intuitive, is that the electricity used in the factories comes from renewable sources. The rise in the price of energy that has led to the rise in the cost of gas (before and after the start of the war in Ukraine) has revealed the consequences of dependence on this fossil fuel and its influence when setting the price of electricity.
It also points to the circular economy of materials so as not to maintain the dynamics of extraction, use and waste that, in the long run, imposes CO2 emissions.
We are at a crossroads. It depends on the decisions we make now to achieve a livable future
Hoesung Lee, head of the IPCC
"In reality, what the report confirms is that with the current economic system we will not be able to avoid the climate crisis," they say in the organization Friends of the Earth. And they explain that in the work of the IPCC it is impossible to find models that do not exceed 1.5ºC degrees. “Either there is a system change or it will not be possible to address the crisis.”
Cities: transport and build without emitting so much
“The way cities function is a CO2 factory. It can be cut, to begin with, with the change to more efficient urban transport models: electric vehicles powered by clean sources are the ones that offer the most reduction possibilities”. The IPCC admits that sustainable biofuels and other products such as hydrogen can be used to tackle gases from aviation, maritime transport and heavy road transport.
As for construction, there is a lot of scope: buildings, both those that already exist and those that are going to be built, should be designed so as not to cause CO2 emissions. Use renewable electricity, prevent leakage and ensure that they require less energy.
IPCC scientists insist that "the evidence is crystal clear." "The time to act is now and emissions can be cut in half by 2030." We are at a crossroads“, summarizes the head of the IPCC Hoesung Lee. ”Achieving a livable future depends on the decisions we make now“.