Updated: Nov 3, 2022
It's time to swallow the pill.
Reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) tend to be dire—the last one certainly was. Perhaps we Treehuggers are incurable optimists, but with the IPCC Working Group III report, "Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change," the glass is certainly half full. It is a very different document, one that demonstrates a pathway to fixing the problem. It tells us what we have to do.
“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. I am encouraged by climate action being taken in many countries," said IPCC chair Hoesung Lee. "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.”1
This Is Gonna Be Close
The latest report is very clear: We are likely to overshoot 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) and staying under 2 degrees C will be difficult; there is not much left in that carbon budget. “It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F),” said IPCC Working Group III co-chair Jim Skea. “Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible.”1
However, this report clearly demonstrates that progress has been made. Sarah Burch, lead author of the IPCC report, noted in a tweet, "Options now exist across ALL sectors and regions that can cut our emissions by at least half by 2030 (which is what is needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change)."
The rate of increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions has slowed, and as my colleague, Treehugger contributor Sami Grover, noted recently, now it’s time to build on that progress and get the job done.
Smart people that I admire are not happy at the scale of what has to be done or the time we have to do it, but one can also look at this as a road map, looking at so many different sectors and telling us what we have to do. We have a prescription, it is going to be tough to swallow, many will resist it and deny it, but there are no longer any excuses—it is a clear call to action.
As Skea said: “Climate change is the result of more than a century of unsustainable energy and land use, lifestyles and patterns of consumption and production. This report shows how taking action now can move us towards a fairer, more sustainable world.”1