IPCC Third Assessment Report: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change calls for action

The third and last part of the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change describes in particular the measures needed to achieve the 1.5 degree reduction target. Despite the ambitious reduction target, the report is cautiously optimistic. The necessary technologies are available and affordable and can even be profitable if they can avert climate damage.

Houses with Solar Panels and Garden

Switching to renewables: today, not tomorrow; this month, not the next. Picture: Matt Bridgestock, Director and Architect at John Gilbert Architects

The second part of the IPCC climate report published in February forcefully showed the devastating effects of climate change on humans, ecosystems and biodiversity. The latest and third part now deals with the question of what measures can be taken to limit climate change.  

The report makes it clear that even if the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) agreed at the climate summit in Glasgow are met, global warming of more than 1.5 degrees cannot be averted. If these targets are not met, there is even a threat of 3.2 degrees of warming by the end of the century. To get climate change under control, global greenhouse gas emissions must peak in the middle of this decade to reach net zero worldwide by 2050. In a nutshell: The bad news: greenhouse gas emissions continued to increase worldwide. The good news: the 1.5 degree target is still achievable. Most reduction pathways require a shift away from fossil fuels and the removal of CO2 in the atmosphere (Carbon Dioxide Removals, CDR).

Costs for renewable energies have fallen encouragingly strongly
The move away from fossil fuels such as coal is central, according to the report. The corresponding technologies, for example photovoltaics and wind power, are competitive with fossil fuels. The cost of solar panels has fallen by 85 per cent in the last decade, wind turbines by 55 per cent and lithium batteries for electric cars by 58 per cent. In some cases, renewables are even cheaper than fossil fuels.
To achieve this turnaround, however, three to six times more investment in climate protection is needed between 2020 and 2030. This is because large financial investments are currently still being made in fossil fuel projects.   

Carbon Dioxide Removals (CDR) from the Atmosphere
The potential of CO2 removal technologies to meet the 1.5 degree target is estimated at 30 to 780 billion tonnes. Two large-scale technologies have been considered: One is direct CO2 capture from the air with subsequent injection (DACCS), the other is bioenergy with CO2 storage (BECCS). In addition, there are also biological approaches to sequestering CO2: Reforestation, renaturation of peatlands, plant charcoal or humus-rich farmland. The federal government has listed the current methods. These various methods of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) are also known as negative emissions.

Changing behaviour could make a big difference
If we all made our lifestyles more climate-friendly, the report says, we could reduce CO2 emissions by 40 to 70 per cent by 2050. Examples would be: Driving less, eating significantly less meat, consuming less, etc.

The climate catastrophe can still be averted - we just have to want it to happen
In conclusion, the science team makes it clear: the climate catastrophe can still be averted. But efforts must be intensified. Now is the time to act, they say, as the technological, economic and political conditions are favourable.  

As Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, put it at the presentation of the partial report: "Intensified action must start this year, not next year; this month, not next month; and indeed today, not tomorrow. Otherwise we will ... Sleepwalk further into a climate catastrophe." Take action yourself!

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