Papers plot green path
Global warming of more than 1.5℃ is now “almost inevitable”, according to the latest IPCC update.
While the latest IPCC assessment report shows that previous goals to limit the effects of man-made climate change may be missed, there is still a viable path to halving global emissions by 2030.
The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) calls for the green energy revolution to pick up pace, saying carbon emissions need to peak within three years, and fall rapidly after that.
For emissions to peak by 2025 and then shrink by at least 43 per cent by the end of this decade, the IPCC believes coal should be retired for good.
The researchers say technology is needed to both limit and reduce CO2 in the atmosphere, pushing for carbon dioxide removal (CDR) via trees, air filtering machines and any other method.
The latest IPCC papers also have an increased focus on social science to reduce people's demand for energy in the areas of shelter, mobility and nutrition.
Low carbon diets, food waste, city planning, and carbon friendly transport options are all covered in the report.
The IPCC says changes in these areas could limit emissions from end-use sectors by 40-70 per cent by 2050, and improve human wellbeing at the same time.
Many of the methods required to avoid environmental catastrophe have been criticised in the past for being too expensive, but the report points out that the costs of green technology are dropping rapidly, and that the cost of not doing enough is stacking up.
The financial toll of climate disasters has steadily climbed, and trillions of dollars are flowing towards fossil fuels, not to clean energy climate solutions.
Just by removing fossil fuel subsidies from governments, emissions could be cut by up to 10 per cent by 2030, according to Greenpeace.
The IPCC says modelling of the economic damage caused by climate change shows that the global cost of limiting warming to 2℃ over this century is lower than the global economic benefits of reducing warming.
Keeping temperatures well under 2℃ will not cost much when the avoided damages are factored in, and should come with co-benefits such as cleaner air and water.
The most aggressive emissions-cutting scenarios in the report would cost at most 0.1 per cent of the rate of annual GDP growth assumed.
The IPCC report also points out that the 10 per cent of households with the highest per capita emissions contribute up to 45 per cent of consumption-based household greenhouse gas emissions.
The experts say that the rich have serious roles to play in helping the world towards net-zero, as wealthy individuals contribute disproportionately to higher emissions, but also have a high potential for emissions reductions.