The evidence is clear: the time for action is now. We can halve emissions by 2030

The International Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) Working Group III (WG III) brings our choices into rather stark relief – it is ‘now or never’ if, as a society, we wish to remain below a 1.5°C increase.

The WG III’s report is the roadmap we require to avoid the catastrophic impacts of climate change and bring us a global society back to a 1.5°C pathway. This roadmap keeps the Paris Agreement alive and tells us what we already knew – the solutions to achieve deep emission cuts are already available to us.

Released overnight, the WG III report gives an updated global assessment of climate change mitigation progress and pledges, examines the sources of global emissions and assesses initiatives to mitigate emissions. It gives us the how we can act to stay below this increase.

The WG III’s 278 authors brought together over 18,000 citations and addressed more than 55,000 comments provided by reviewers over its two drafts. As inferred in the name, this is the third and final instalment of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report.

This report, by WG III goes deeper into the possible scenarios facing us and the solutions to mitigate them.

What are scenarios, and why do they matter in the context of Working Group III?

The conclusions in the report were drawn from analysis of different scenarios across varying time horizons: 2025, 2030, 2050 and even 2070. It is, therefore, important to understand how scenarios were used by WG III to arrive at their assessment of the current situation and our future.

Scenarios are underpinned by models that provide a ‘what-if’ lens to our future, modelling different scenario characteristics like policy change, impacts of carbon prices, and renewable energy uptake. These scenarios provide a critical understanding of how society could evolve towards a low (or high) carbon futures.

Importantly, however, scenarios are not a prophecy of fate, as they are representations of what could happen based on robust and reviewed science. They are not prescriptive or predetermined outcomes for the future.

What are the key messages emerging from these scenarios and the report?

  1. From 2010 to 2019, average annual global greenhouse gas emissions were at their highest levels in human history, but the growth rate has slowed.
  2. Action and timing are critical to limiting warming to around 1.5°C global greenhouse gas emissions are required to peak before 2025 at the latest and be reduced by 43% by 2030.
  3. Importantly, to limit warming to around 2°C, global greenhouse gas emissions must still peak before 2025 at the latest and be reduced by a quarter by 2030.
  4. Our current ambition is not enough – Global GHG emissions in 2030 associated with the implementation of nationally determined contributions announced before COP26 would make it likely that warming will exceed 1.5°C during the 21st century.
  5. A significant transition in the energy sector is required through a substantial reduction in fossil fuel use, widespread electrification, improved energy efficiency, and alternative fuels (such as hydrogen).
  6. The technologies and understanding to transform all sectors, enabling halving emissions by 2030, already exists.
  7. While financial flows are three to six times lower than levels needed to limit warming to below 2°C by 2030, the capital and liquidity to close investment gaps are already present.
  8. Clear market signals from governments and the international community are required to facilitate these financial flows. This includes a strong alignment of public sector finance and policy.
  9. Accelerated and equitable climate action in mitigating and adapting to climate change impacts are critical to sustainable development. Climate solutions can provide a dual benefit through absorbing and storing carbon and, at the same time, help communities limit the impacts associated with climate change.

This cannot become another roadmap, blueprint, or plan to make a plan that sits on the shelf, never to be reread. We must hold the rhetoric and previous inaction around climate change accountable through capital markets, policy change, and civil society being unrelenting in demanding and driving change.

The decisions made today will determine the future of tomorrow. We don’t need a scenario or a crystal ball to tell us that.

The other two reports are;

Working Group I’s Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis, released on 9 August 2021.

Working Group II’s contribution, Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability,  released on 28 February 2022.

 

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2 thoughts on “The evidence is clear: the time for action is now. We can halve emissions by 2030

  1. Another great article and summary Cam thanks. The message that we need to decarbonise immediately and we already have the tools is loud and clear to us and many of our clients.

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