Date: 04 Apr 2022
IPCC Working Group III Report
The evidence is clear: the time for action is now. We can halve emissions by 2030.
The Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Working Group III report, Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change was approved on April 4, 2022, by 195 member governments of the IPCC. Originally scheduled for release in July 2021, the report was delayed for several months by the COVID-19 pandemic, as work in the scientific community including the IPCC shifted online.
Comprehensive scientific assessment reports are published every 6 to 7 years by the IPCC. This recent report is the third instalment of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6).
The Working Group I contributed to the AR6 - Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis, released on 9 August 2021, and provides an understanding of the current state of the climate, including how it is changing and the role of human influence.
The Working Group II contributed to the AR6 - Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, released on 28 February 2022, and highlights the assessment of climate change impacts and risks as well as adaptation.
The Working Group III contributed to this new report, the AR6 - Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change, which focuses on in-depth evidence, research and actions that can be taken to mitigate climate change.
The concluding Synthesis Report is due in autumn 2022
In 2010-2019 the average annual global greenhouse gas emissions were at their highest levels in human history, but the rate of growth has slowed. Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, limiting global warming to 1.5°C is beyond reach. However, the IPCC report released today has pointed to increasing evidence of climate action, including a growing range of policies and laws that have enhanced energy efficiency, reduced rates of deforestation and accelerated the deployment of renewable energy.
IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee said; “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 report notes that we options in all sectors to at least halve emissions by 2030
Limiting global warming will require major transitions in the energy sector. This will involve a substantial reduction in fossil fuel use, widespread electrification, improved energy efficiency, and use of alternative fuels (such as hydrogen).
Cities and other urban areas also offer significant opportunities for emissions reductions. These can be achieved through lower energy consumption (such as by creating compact, walkable cities), electrification of transport in combination with low-emission energy sources, and enhanced carbon uptake and storage using nature. There are options for established, rapidly growing and new cities.
Reducing emissions in industry will involve using materials more efficiently, reusing and recycling products and minimising waste. For basic materials, including steel, building materials and chemicals, low- to zero-greenhouse gas production processes are at their pilot to near-commercial stage. This sector accounts for about a quarter of global emissions. Achieving net zero will be challenging and will require new production processes, low and zero emissions electricity, hydrogen, and, where necessary, carbon capture and storage.
Agriculture, forestry, and other land use can provide large-scale emissions reductions and remove and store carbon dioxide at scale. However, land cannot compensate for delayed emissions reductions in other sectors. Response options can benefit biodiversity, help us adapt to climate change, and secure livelihoods, food and water, and wood supplies
“Having the right policies, infrastructure, and technology in place to enable changes to our lifestyles and behaviour can result in a 40-70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This offers significant untapped potential. The evidence also shows that these lifestyle changes can improve our health and wellbeing.” IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair Priyadarshi Shukla
Upcoming years are crucial
“We are at a crossroads. The decisions we make now can secure a liveable future. We have the tools and know-how required to limit warming,” IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee.
Limiting warming to around 1.5°C (2.7°F) requires global greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025 ultimately, and be reduced by 43% by 2030. Similarly, methane would also need to be reduced by about a third. “It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C,” said Skea. “Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible.”
The global temperature will stabilise when carbon dioxide emissions reach net zero. For 1.5°C, this means achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions globally in the early 2050s; for 2°C (3.6°F), it is in the early 2070s. This assessment shows that limiting warming to approximately 2°C still requires global greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025 at the latest and be reduced by a quarter by 2030.
The report also looks beyond technologies and demonstrates that while financial flows are a factor of three to six times lower than levels needed by 2030 to limit warming to below 2°C, there is sufficient global capital and liquidity to reduce investment gaps. The IPCC identified a shortfall in global climate finance. Developed and developing countries missed their collective 2020 target to mobilise $100bn per year. However, it relies on clear signalling from governments and the international community, including a stronger alignment of public sector finance and policy.
“Without taking into account the economic benefits of reduced adaptation costs or avoided climate impacts, global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would be just a few percentage points lower in 2050 if we take the actions necessary to limit warming to 2°C or below, compared to maintaining current policies,” said Shukla.
Ireland has a significant role to participate in mitigating the impacts of climate change. The Climate Action Plan 2021 sets out to meet national objectives- to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by 51% by 2030 and to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Throughout this plan, the government is empowering each citizen, community, and organisation to work collectively to achieve a more sustainable future for all.
You can read the full IPCC report HERE.