With the latest IPCC report, we are at a crossroads, the decisions we make now can still secure a liveable future. This report draws from 34,000 studies from 270 authors in 67 countries and is the most important update since 2014. Some key take-aways are:
Current Climate action is far behind Paris commitments
- Emission levels are the highest ever and they are not in line with the Paris Agreement.
- GDP and population growth are the main causes and are not compensated by energy or carbon intensity improvements.
- A 1.1°C warming today is already causing harmful health impacts and disruptions through droughts, extreme heat and record floods.
- Nearly half of the population leaves in regions highly vulnerable to Climate Change even if, they least contribute to it, such as South Asia, Central and South America, and sub-Saharan Africa. This will drive further inequity, conflict and development challenges.
- The world is at least on a 3°C course and the risks (WRI, 2022) will only escalate faster with higher temperatures, causing irreversible impacts such as loss of glaciers, polar ice, and of the majority of coral reefs by 2100. According to a recent report (Bressler, 2021) an estimated 83million could die from Climate Change by 2100.
- Limiting to 1.5°C means we should halve emissions by 2030 and reach net zero globally in 2050. Only then, global temperatures will stabilise.
All decarbonisation levers should be activated now. The report highlights key priorities:
Accelerating the Renewable Energy Transition: At the heart of decarbonization is the drastic reduction of coal, oil and gas and increased use of renewables. From 2010 to 2019, solar and energy storage have become 85% cheaper and wind 55% respectively. This unlocked the potential for rapid adoption and meaningful action is already happening in many countries.
Changing demand and decarbonising cities and buildings: Actions on demand could reduce from 40% to 70% emissions by 2050. Sobriety will have the most impact by abandoning individual cars, using public transport and reducing air transport. Populations will also need to shift towards more plant-based foods. Urban centers are responsible for 70% of emissions and 55% of the population. Key levers are to reduce energy consumption with energy efficiency, low carbon buildings, buildings renovation, electrification with renewables, heat pumps and emobility. A key driver is also to implement carbon absorption and storage with Nature-based Solutions.
Changing Industry processes : Decarbonizing industry requires novel production processes using electricity, hydrogen and low carbon fuels. Electricity and circular material flows will also drastically contribute to reduced environmental pressure and increased economic activity.
Improving Transport processes : Road transport represents a large part of emissions and light vehicles offer the most potential of decarbonization. Biofuels and hydrogen with low emissions can contribute to reduce emissions especially from maritime, aviation and heavy road transport but this requires production process improvements and cost reductions.
Investing in Nature-based Solutions: Oceans, forests and other ecosystems already absorb about 50% of world emissions. Investing in ecosystem protection, restoration, improved farmlands management and their sustainable management are essential to attain a Zero Net Emission. They could provide about 1/3 of the climate mitigation necessary to meet targets, help improve resilience, maintain ecosystems health and address UN SDGs such as hunger, poverty, access to clean water and inequality. Opportunities are especially significant in developing countries, along the equator given forests’ rapid growth rates and high risks of deforestation.
Carbon price: the conclusion states that collective action involving all is necessary. Incentive and support policies for the transition must be multiplied, with in particular, the carbon price. Mitigation options less or equal to $100/TCO2eq could reduce emissions by at least half of the 2019 level by 2030.
On a personal note, given the highly constrained world we are getting in, I believe that the companies that will clean-up their operations inline with the Science Based Targets and define a clear value proposal that help their customers reduce their impact to achieve their targets will prevail.
Time is of the essence as we still have a short window of opportunity to drive change.