Businesses and governments must decarbonize now to avoid catastrophe, says UN report

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The world must achieve ‘deep and rapid’ reductions in emissions across all sectors to avoid the worst effects of the climate crisis, according to the last report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The United Nations body charged with advancing knowledge on climate change has urged to multiply the speed of the global shift to renewable energy by ending fossil fuel subsidies and reinvesting those funds in wind and solar in the latest report of Working Group III on climate change mitigation. , published on Monday.

“We are on the fast track to climate catastrophe,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres said at a press conference on the release of the report. “Some heads of state and business leaders say one thing but do another. Simply put, they lie… Governments and high-emitting companies don’t just turn a blind eye. They are adding fuel to the fire, they are suffocating our planet due to their vested interests and historical investments in fossil fuels.

The report contains 3,675 pages urging policymakers to quickly decarbonize all sectors or risk letting greenhouse gas emissions warm the Earth by 3.2 degrees above pre-industrial levels, more than double the threshold. recommended to avoid a climatic catastrophe.

It starts with the energy sector – it’s responsible for around a third of global emissions, said task force vice-chair Diana Ürge-Vorsatz at the report’s press conference. Reducing the industry’s impact on the environment will require removing fossil fuel subsidies, electrifying the energy system, encouraging the construction of alternative fuels like green hydrogen and sustainable biofuels, and funding the development of renewable energy. , such as wind and solar.

“Investing in new fossil fuel infrastructure is moral and economic folly,” Guterres said, noting recent investments in fossil fuels in the face of tensions on the oil markets following the conflict in Ukraine. “Such investments will soon be stranded assets, a blot on the landscape and a blight on investment portfolios. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

“A shift to renewables will fix our broken global energy mix,” said António Guterres.

The report is the product of over 195 governments and 293 authors, who considered 18,000 scientific papers and over 60,000 comments when writing the report, and The Guardianwere weigh last minute changes until Sunday evening.

It follows two other reports from other IPCC working groups published last year: the Convention is divided into three working groups, the first devoted to the physical science of climate change, and the second devoted to monitoring and forecasting its impacts and possibilities. for adaptation. And the third working group, which published the latest report, focuses on mitigation. Together they publish scientific assessments of the threat of climate change in cycles every six or seven years.

The first working group used more than 14,000 existing scientific studies to determine that a temperature rise of 1.5°C was virtually certain by 2040 in a landmark report published in august; the second, published in February, revealed that around 40% of the world’s population lives in regions with “high vulnerability” to climate changewhere they are sure to experience drought, rising sea levels and the loss of valuable farmland in years to come.

Both reports underscore the importance of swift and drastic action to prevent these outcomes, and Monday’s report, the final in the Sixth Assessment trilogy, offers ways to achieve this.

“We are definitely not on track to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius,” task force co-chair Dr. Jim Skea said at Tuesday’s press conference. “But there is growing evidence of climate action.”

Skea said countries that manage to steadily reduce emissions to the extent necessary to limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius are adopting policies to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy, reduce deforestation rates and improve energy efficiency. . The wind and solar sectors are showing notable signs of success, he said, as unit costs have fallen over the past two decades; adopting these technologies will be necessary to mitigate the worst effects of the climate crisis.

“Unless there are immediate and deep reductions in emissions across all sectors, limiting warming to 1.5 degrees will be out of reach,” Skea said. “To limit warming to about 1.5 degrees, net zero carbon dioxide emissions must be achieved by the early 2050s…deep and sustained reductions in other gases would also be needed.”


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