Key takeaways from the IPCC report on climate change mitigation
Emissions are Increasing
Globally, CO2 emissions are increasing. We are all talking about reducing emissions but they are in fact increasing. From 2010 to 2019 emissions increased 12%. The improvements from increases in sustainable electricity generation have not been enough to mitigate the overall increase in energy consumption and population growth.
Temperature rises are still forecast
Current predictions are around 3.2C. If the commitments created by individual countries at COP26 are actually seen to happen, that could limit temperature increases to 2.2C.
Holding warming to within 1.5 degrees C requires cutting emissions of all greenhouse gases roughly in half by the 2030s, and achieving net-zero carbon dioxide emissions in the 2050s.
Reduced Economic Growth
Containing warming to 2 degrees C would require actions that limit global economic growth by 1.3% to 2.7% by 2050, the report says. However, that loss would likely be outweighed by the overall economic benefit of limiting warming.
We would all need to change our lifestyles and behaviours such as working from home and not using our cars when we could walk or cycle instead, and switching to plant-based diets.
Reducing demand for products and services that produce CO2 could be responsible for 70% reduction in emissions for some sectors. This means consuming less, buying less crap, creating less waste.
There has been some progress since the last IPCC report. The cost of solar, wind and battery storage are all dramatically cheaper. In some countries, government policies have led to increased renewable energy and electric vehicle use, or have slowed the rate of deforestation.
The report also weighs in on how market and regulatory tools can help stimulate innovation and technological competition, two strategies for boosting incentives to cut emissions. For example, removing fossil fuel subsidies and introducing carbon pricing would direct more investment toward renewable solutions.
In the agriculture sector, growing crops within forests and managing livestock more sustainably would help improve land productivity and resilience to climate impacts such as heat or drought.
Some climate-friendly options face significant hurdles, such as public resistance to nuclear power or to costly carbon-removal technologies.
Still, global finance for climate technology and solutions is far short of where it needs to be for curbing emissions enough to limit warming to 1.5 degrees C.
The report summarised that we are in control of our future. Governments are in control of changing markets and regulation - killing off subsidies for fossil fuels (yes we really are still fanning the flames) and introducing carbon pricing. We can all change our habits to consume less and support green initiatives.