At the launch of the latest IPCC report, UN Secretary General António Guterres warned that a 3.2C rise in global temperatures would see our planet hit by “unprecedented heatwaves, terrifying storms, and widespread water shortages.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Working Group III Contribution to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report emphasises that while we have the technology and global capital to tackle the deepening climate crisis, we are running out of time.
Published on Monday, the report says greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced immediately to limit the world’s temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Even if all the policies to cut carbon that governments had put in place by the end of 2020 were fully implemented, the world will still warm by 3.2C this century.
The world is heading for an excess of fossil fuel-powered energy generation that will exceed the carbon budgets needed to meet the 1.5C Paris Agreement goal. While the IPCC recognises the role of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies and carbon capture and storage (CCS) to neutralise emissions from new power plants, it says the only realistic scenario to keep the planet below the 1.5C involves swiftly phasing out coal use. Furthermore, projected cumulative future CO2 emissions over the lifetime of existing and currently planned fossil fuel infrastructure without additional abatement exceed the total cumulative net CO2 emissions in pathways that limit warming to 1.5°C with no or limited overshoot.
The report backs a massive scaling of renewable energy technologies and infrastructure, improvements in energy efficiency, and reductions in energy consumption, with the IPCC noting “sustained decreases” in the unit costs of solar energy (85%), wind energy (55%), and lithium-ion batteries (85%) over the past decade.
On 12 April 2022, lead authors presented the report’s main takeaways and climate scenario findings in a UNEP FI/Principles for Responsible Investment convened webinar. Speakers also suggested concrete actions to move the needle towards 1.5C, and discussed mitigation pathways compatible with the objectives of the Paris Agreement.