The world’s leading climate scientists have released their final warning shot. Their latest report was authored by 278 of the world’s top scientists from 65 countries, who have assessed over 18,000 publications to identify options and solutions for the fate of the globe.
This group, known as The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has made it clear that if the publication’s key messages remain unheeded, we face an unjust future that challenges us all. The report, signed by 195 member nations, scrutinises the pledges made by governments to combat climate change, and their progress to date. Highlighted is the failure of global leadership to heed or act on decades of warnings. The message is clear: we need radical, rapid change across all sectors, from energy to transport and food, to avoid an irreversible overshoot of a 1.5°C rise in global temperatures above their pre-industrial levels. But at the core of the report’s message is a call to action for us: push governments and businesses to use the tools already available, to help us make more sustainable choices and alter our lifestyles. This is our only chance to halve emissions by 2030, and we’ve listed a few ways that you can help.
Change is hard. We seldom like it, and when it concerns altering our lifestyle, we’re often hard-pressed to commit to the short-term discomfort. But the previous reports issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a body of the United Nations made up of global climate experts that assess the science linked to our changing climate, warn us that climate change is inevitable (and indeed, upon us). Now, the latest IPCC report tells us that change – behavioural, sectoral, societal – is necessary. In fact, it is critical to our very survival.
The IPCC’s third working group report, titled ‘Mitigation of Climate Change’, posits that we have two and a half years remaining to cut rising greenhouse gas emissions. Put another way; we have 30 months to let greenhouse gas emissions peak in the year 2025, and then be nearly halved by 2030. It’s a sobering thought, but action is the best antidote to anxiety is action. The report states that the tools to achieve this goal are within our reach, but those technologies, policies and infrastructure need to be available and in place so that we can make the required changes to our behaviours.
The bad news is that we will certainly overshoot the 1.5°C rise in global temperatures beyond their pre-industrial levels. Most nations have fallen short of their commitments and are falling behind in achieving their climate targets. We have been emitting higher levels of greenhouse gases in recent years than ever before in history. Whilst the rate of growth for emissions has slowed, between 2010 and 2019 we reached historic emission levels and ensured that, unless our actions now are radical (and meaningful), we will not limit global warming to the 1. 5°C we need to avoid catastrophic change.
The good news is that the costs of renewable energies has been lowering since 2010. In fact, solar and wind energy have decreased up to 85% in cost. There have been some policies put into place to fast-track access to renewable energy. But, the damage we have done to date cannot be reversed or even limited now by curbing our behaviour alone. We will also need to deploy carbon dioxide reduction to meet net zero emissions by 2050.
There are really so many ways in which each of us can contribute to a more equitable, sustainable and brighter future. These are a few ways that are directly linked to the advice in the IPCC report.
The late Archbishop Desmond Tutu said, “When we see the face of a child, we think of the future”. It’s what Greta Thunberg has called on us to do – to act with the future in mind. But the IPCC report makes it clear: the future is now, and we need to change the system. Individual shifts in behaviour help to push the industries and companies serving us to provide us with better choices. What we buy, where we put our money – and our mouths – can turn the tide. However, rapid, radical change requires top-down efforts. For that to happen, governments and business leaders need to pull levers that unlock large-scale change and provide cleaner, more sustainable options for us to do better.
Want to know how you can help more? Read ‘How can I help Save Our Seas here