According to The Washington Post, The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) wrote in a report requested as part of the 2015 Paris climate agreement,
“There is no documented historic precedent” for the sweeping change to energy, transportation and other systems required to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius.
At the same time, however, the report is being received with hope in some quarters because it affirms that 1.5 degrees Celsius is still possible — if emissions stopped today, for instance, the planet would not reach that temperature. It is also likely to galvanize even stronger climate action by focusing on 1.5 degrees Celsius, rather than 2 degrees, as a target that the world cannot afford to miss.
“Frankly, we’ve delivered a message to the governments,” said Jim Skea, a co-chair of the IPCC panel and professor at Imperial College London, at a press event following the document’s release. “It’s now their responsibility … to decide whether they can act on it.” He added, “What we’ve done is said what the world needs to do.”
The document says the world’s annual carbon dioxide emissions, which amount to more than 40 billion tons per year, would have to be on an extremely steep downward path by 2030 to either hold the world entirely below 1.5 degrees Celsius, or allow only a brief “overshoot” in temperatures.
Overall reductions in emissions in the next decade would probably need to be more than 1 billion tons per year, larger than the current emissions of all but a few of the very largest emitting countries. By 2050, the report calls for a total or near-total phaseout of the burning of coal.
The bottom line is that the world is WAY off target.
Cars and other forms of transportation, meanwhile, would need to be shifting strongly toward being electrified. At present, transportation is far behind the power sector in the shift. Right now, according to the International Energy Agency, only 4 percent of road transportation is powered by renewable fuels, and the agency has projected only a 1 percent increase by 2022.
In an interview with The Washington Post last week, the EPA’s acting administrator, Andrew Wheeler, said the U.S. will
“continue to remain engaged in the U.N.’s effort.”
Despite the fact that Trump has said he intends to withdraw from the Paris climate accord as soon as legally possible.
In the end, “one thing is for sure” in light of the IPCC report, said Niklas Hohne, a scientist who heads the New Climate Institute, in a statement.
“If we give up the goal and do not even try, we will certainly miss it a long way.”
You can read the full (scary) report here.
(Photo, chart, Wikimedia Commons; via WaPo)