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IPCC report warns of too little action to cut emissions


Greenhouse gas emissions rise since 2010 in all sectors

'Half measures won't halve emissions': UNEP

Falling costs for renewables, EVs offer blueprint for action

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  • Frank Watson
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The world is failing to reduce greenhouse gas emission at the speed needed to avert climate change, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned in a report April 4.

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"Net anthropogenic GHG emissions have increased since 2010 across all major sectors globally," the IPCC said in a summary for policymakers April 4.

"Emissions reductions in CO2 from fossil fuels and industrial processes, due to improvements in energy intensity of GDP and carbon intensity of energy, have been less than emissions increases from rising global activity levels in industry, energy supply, transport, agriculture and buildings," the IPCC said.

However, technological developments continue to offer solutions to the climate crisis, and price reductions in clean energy in particular bode well for the global energy transition, the IPCC said.

Between 2010 and 2019, the unit cost of solar energy fell by 85%, while wind power fell 55% and lithium-ion batteries by 85%, it said.

These cost reductions came about through economies of scale, with deployments for solar growing by a factor of 10 over that time frame, while electric vehicle deployments have increased by a factor of 100, it said.

The IPCC released its Climate Change 2022: Mitigation report from its Working Group III, whose focus is on reducing global emissions, as part of the Sixth Assessment Report cycle.

Decisive decade

The IPCC and other groups have described the 2020s as a decisive decade for climate, with the global atmospheric concentration of CO2 continuing to rise annually, despite a widening pool of countries and companies setting targets to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

"The first two IPCC reports told us that climate change is here, now, and causing huge disruption to the natural world and human wellbeing," said Inger Anderson, executive director of the UN Environment Program, speaking in a broadcast by the IPCC April 4.

"This report tells us that we are still not doing enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions, confirming the findings of the UNEP's 2021 Emissions Gap Report," she said.

The last two decades saw the highest increase in emissions in human history, according to UNEP.

"The next decade cannot follow the same pattern if we are to hold global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Half-measures won't halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, which is what we need to do. We need to go all in," Andersen said.

Make or break

The report summarizes the latest climate science and is signed off by 195 of the world's governments. The body's findings are significant in informing governments' long-term climate goals and can help to underpin policy frameworks governing energy, industry, transport and agriculture.

"Choices made now by governments will make or break climate targets," said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, responding to the IPCC's report.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the tools to deal with climate change already exist, and more needs to be done to deploy them.

"The IPCC found there are options available now, in all sectors, that can halve global emissions by 2030 – from improving energy efficiency, to halting and reversing global deforestation, to deploying more sustainable transportation and clean energy," Blinken said in a statement April 4.

"There are ways to improve our chances of success, including more effective decision-making across all levels of government, increased alignment of financial flows with climate outcomes, and enhanced international cooperation," he said.

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm described the IPCC's latest report as a "clarion call" and said it is time to deploy clean solutions across the US economy.

"It's the biggest opportunity in a generation to grow our economies, improve health, and invest in communities – and we can either reap the benefits today, or pay the costs tomorrow," she said in a statement April 4.