A coal fired power station in Queensland © James Morgan / WWF

A coal fired power station in Queensland, Australia © WWF / James Morgan

IPCC report highlights urgent need to scale up climate solutions to tackle rising emissions

05 Apr 2022

Keywords
  • climate change
  • energy

A powerful new report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sets out the solutions that can limit global warming by transforming sectors including energy, industry, agriculture and land-use, buildings and transport.

The report - Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change - shows that greenhouse gas emissions between 2010 and 2019 were higher than any other decade in human history, and that we’re almost out of time to limit global warming to 1.5°C. It outlines the stark reality of climbing emissions, driven primarily by the polluting fossil fuels which still power much of the world’s energy systems and from carbon released when natural ecosystems are destroyed.

The report offers glimpses of different possible futures. It highlights that we have choices and mitigation options that can put us on lower-emissions pathways that result in fewer climate-related impacts and lead to more sustainable development. The cost of clean renewable energy technologies has dropped dramatically, and the roll-out of climate solutions including solar and wind power, electric vehicles and battery storage has accelerated in recent years - but much more needs to be done to phase out fossil fuels. The report confirms that protecting and restoring natural ecosystems offers huge mitigation potential by absorbing and locking away carbon from the atmosphere.

Crucially the report notes the economic benefits of addressing climate change will exceed the cost of transitioning from a carbon based economy.

Dr Krista Singleton-Cambage, WWF-Australia’s Head of Climate and Food Security, said: “This report is another wake-up call for Australia. We’re seeing the heartbreaking impacts of climate change right now, with mass coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef, recurring flooding in Queensland and NSW, and erratic weather threatening our food-producing regions. If we don’t do more to reduce emissions now then these events will only become more frequent.

 

“Australia has so much to lose from inaction on climate and so much to gain as the world decarbonises. With our abundance of sunshine, wind, and large land area, Australia is well-positioned to be a renewable energy superpower. We can produce clean energy for ourselves, and also benefit from exporting renewable products and expertise.

 

“Australia’s leadership in protecting nature will also be essential to achieving a safer climate future. Healthy ecosystems not only support a diversity of wildlife, they also offer huge mitigation potential by absorbing and locking away carbon from the atmosphere. Caring for our unique landscapes and seascapes will allow nature to work for us. By reducing deforestation, we reduce emissions.”

Dr Stephen Cornelius, WWF Global Lead for IPCC and head of the WWF delegation observing the negotiations, said: “This report shows that while some sectors are heading in the right direction, climate change is moving faster than we are. We cannot hold on any longer to the polluting fossil fuels that are wrecking our climate and destroying the natural world on which we all depend.

“We will miss the crucial goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C unless we dramatically scale up climate solutions to rapidly cut greenhouse gas emissions. This means investing at scale in powering our societies more efficiently, using clean renewable energy, conserving and restoring nature, moving away from unsustainable business practices and leaving no one behind in this transition. Every moment, every policy, every investment, every decision matters to avoid further climate chaos.”

Dr Stephanie Roe, IPCC Lead Author and WWF Global Climate and Energy Lead Scientist, said: “The latest IPCC report finds that solutions are readily available across all sectors to more than halve emissions by 2030, in line with a 1.5ºC pathway. Moreover, a low-carbon economy can create more jobs overall, and there are many mitigation options with economic, societal and environmental benefits. Since the last report, technologies have significantly improved, and the costs of solutions like solar, wind and batteries have declined by up to 85%.

“Around 20 countries have shown they can reduce emissions through policy and economic measures, which have boosted energy efficiency, reduced rates of deforestation and increased renewable energy and low-carbon transportation. Some countries’ reductions are consistent with limiting warming to 2ºC, but none are yet on track for a 1.5ºC pathway. We clearly have the tools to tackle the climate crisis, but they need to be deployed more rapidly and at a larger scale to keep 1.5ºC within reach and reduce the severity of climate impacts.”


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