The Climate’s Improved Future Has Not Been Consigned to the Dust Bin of History
We are on the brink of climate change. The question is: Will we get a climate we can live with? This has never been more urgent. There is no time to waste on denial, delay or delay. To save us, the climate requires immediate and radical action.
In 2015, the IPCC released its draft Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5–4.5°C, highlighting the urgency of the climate crisis and its criticality for the survival of humanity. The report is based on the best available data about global energy and carbon cycles and climate models. The report’s conclusions are unequivocal: there is little chance of limiting the warming to 1.5–4.5°C by 2030 without a rapid and substantial increase in the rate of decarbonisation in the energy and transport sectors.
With the climate’s vulnerability to extreme events and its sensitivity to changes in climate, the IPCC has been right to call on the world to rapidly implement the necessary measures to combat climate change.
The IPCC’s report makes the case for the need to significantly reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change. But it is only through rapidly reducing emissions in the energy and transport sectors that we have a chance to limit global warming to a global average of 1.5°C. This requires the combined efforts of the developed and developing world, where the carbon intensity of the energy and transport sectors is high. These require rapid decarbonisation. But we are running out of time and options.
Despite the significant role that energy and transport play in greenhouse gas emissions, the energy and transport sectors account for only 9% of global emissions. And, for the last few decades, the share of emissions in the energy and transport sectors has been steadily declining. In 1980, emissions from the energy sector reached 34% of the total and were growing rapidly. The share of emissions from the transport sector was only 7%. In 2015, emissions from the energy sector accounted for 43% of total emissions and the transport sector for 22%. By 2020, the combined carbon intensity of these sectors will be 42%.
In 2015, the world’s two largest emitters, China and the US, achieved their first ever goals for reductions in emissions in the energy sector. Emissions from the energy sector in China fell by 15