On April 4th, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest report, and the message was clear: If governments and industry act now-right now!-mitigating some of the effects from global warming is still possible. But we are drawing ever nearer to the point when even that won’t be possible, and humanity will be set on a chaotic and dangerous course.
“We are at a crossroads. The decisions we make now can secure a livable future. We have the tools and know-how required to limit warming,” said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee. “I am encouraged by climate action being taken in many countries. There are policies, regulations and market instruments that are proving effective. If these are scaled up and applied more widely and equitably, they can support deep emissions reductions and stimulate innovation.”
The good news is that the cost of renewable energy has plunged more than 85% since 2010, and policies on energy efficiency, limiting deforestation and renewable deployment have all made great forward strides.
But the bad news is that emissions are still increasing when we should be making every effort to lower them. And the war in Ukraine is not helping with short- and medium-term climate goals, although by sparking a re-evaluation on Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels, there could be a silver lining in the long term.
The trouble is, there’s no time to waste if warming is to be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the number that scientists have identified as critical to avoid total climate chaos. Currently, temperatures have risen 1.1 degrees Celsius since the pre-industrial era. As it is, scientists project that global temperatures will increase more than 1.5 degrees over the next few years, but that the increase could be temporary if we get serious about climate change immediately.
“Climate change is the result of more than a century of unsustainable energy and land use, lifestyles and patterns of consumption and production,” said IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair Jim Skea. “This report shows how taking action now can move us towards a fairer, more sustainable world.”