Climate change is underway: why the planet needs a change

Earth’s climate is rapidly changing, but at the moment people across the globe are still not doing enough to protect themselves and their families from the changes. In fact, only two-thirds of the world’s…

Climate change is underway: why the planet needs a change

Earth’s climate is rapidly changing, but at the moment people across the globe are still not doing enough to protect themselves and their families from the changes. In fact, only two-thirds of the world’s nations submitted plans to combat global warming that exceed the internationally agreed limits, the United Nations says.

The two-yearly UN report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that emissions had to be cut at least 44% by 2030 to keep temperature rises below 2C (3.6F) — the scientific limit scientists believe is safe. This included 45% below current levels in the power sector.

An interim report last year found the global economy must cut emissions by 45% by 2030 to limit dangerous climate change to “well below” 2C.

The new report said that with even modest contributions, the world would reach “rapid” carbon cuts by 2030, but warned that by mid-century, emissions are likely to be “above the 2C threshold.”

“Policies and responses by all countries must progressively build on the current efforts of the countries that have submitted plans,” the report said.

WWF conservation advisor, Dr Tim Gore, said the report was “yet more proof that governments must urgently increase their ambition towards a low-carbon and climate-resilient future.”

“The IPCC warns us yet again that to stay within 2C the world must cut CO2 emissions by 40-45% by 2030. But the grim reality is that we are heading way off track,” said Phil Blond, Executive Director of environmental campaign group, Friends of the Earth.

The IPCC has warned that continuing to release climate-destroying greenhouse gases into the atmosphere beyond 2030 would lead to a “very serious” long-term risk.

After 2030, emissions would rise to a “moderate” range that would see some countries exceeding the 2C threshold.

Earlier this year, a senior Green MEP called for Europe to consider switching to electric cars in the next ten years, warning that without that move, the cost of the electricity grid would balloon beyond the European Union’s reach.

“With electric cars becoming more and more popular and costs falling, they may save us from having to build any more electric power plants, which would save significant money in the EU,” Green MEP, Claude Turmes said.

“In addition, unless we develop an alternative European electricity grid to the current one, like battery-powered cars and storage systems, we will not achieve our 2050 goal of zero emissions,” Turmes said.

He estimated that it would take an investment of around €18 billion per year until 2040 to replace Europe’s entire coal fleet and nearly €40 billion per year thereafter, which would potentially leave the EU’s electricity grid more susceptible to the prospect of blackouts.

That number includes investment in projects outside of Europe.

“We are talking about big money — some hundreds of billions of euros and possibly hundreds of billions of dollars,” Turmes told EURACTIV in an interview.

“If we want to be able to stop an increase in demand for electricity, we would have to decrease the amount of the fossil fuel we burn. And that means a major investment,” he added.

“If the EU does not want to make the investments, somebody else is going to have to, because it’s just going to leave them behind,” Turmes said.

Climate change is already “having an impact on lives and livelihoods” all over the world, said David Wakefield, Corporate Relations Director at UN Environment.

“Millions of people, particularly in poor, emerging and vulnerable countries, risk losing their homes, livelihoods and the people and resources they depend on if climate change continues unabated,” he said.

The Guardian has more on the IPCC report here.

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