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Mitigating climate change: solutions from the latest IPCC report
The third and final part of the sixth IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Report was published on Monday 4 April. It provides a view of the different pathways for mitigating the effects of climate change. Considering both short- and longer-term solutions, the links they share highlight the need to move towards a more sober and resilient society.
WE NEED TO ACT NOW
Reducing our greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions significantly is the only way to limit global warming to 1.5°C. This figure emphasized by the IPCC is by no means trivial, as demonstrated in the second part of the report, which showed the difference that each additional tenth of a degree makes.
"For every additional tenth of a degree of global warming there will be increasing impacts, there will be costs, and there will be more damage." - Valérie Masson-Delmotte, Paleoclimatologist
Thus, we have no choice but to reduce our emissions by at least 45% before the end of the decade, while reaching carbon neutrality by 2050. This implies undertaking a societal transformation, with more sobriety, the drop of fossil fuels and the development of renewable energies. Good news : we have all the tools we need to succeed.
"We are at a crossroads. The decisions we make now can ensure a sustainable future. We have the tools and the ability to curb global warming." - Hoesung Lee, IPCC Chairman
Mitigation requires greater international cooperation and investments to adopt lifestyles with lower energy and resource consumption. The costs of these investments remain minor compared to those caused by climate disruption. Strong political decisions must therefore be taken to steer our societies towards a more sober future. Private and public investments in polluting activities, especially fossil fuels, are still too important, which is why legislative frameworks must accompany the change to encourage decarbonized investments.
THE POWER OF INDIVIDUAL ACTIONS
Our scope of action is multiple. As individuals, changes have an impact and help to drive ambitious and much needed policies.
"Individuals with high socioeconomic status contribute disproportionately to emissions and have a greater potential for reduction."
Behavior and lifestyle changes can reduce global emissions of some sectors by at least 5% rapidly, and more with policy support (especially in wealthy nations). This includes shifting to sustainable healthy diets, reducing food waste, supporting products with a longer live-span/repairable, teleworking, walking, cycling, car sharing, turning the heat down, etc.
Therefore, mitigation solutions also depend on our individual actions. The IPCC scientists in their three reports have presented the facts, effects and solutions of climate change. We still have a window of action, but it is urgent to seize it by adopting deep societal changes. All sectors are concerned by this citizen's lever for action that everyone can and must seize.
ENERGY : A KEY SECTOR
On the basis of scientific knowledge from various sectors, the IPCC has defined a perimeter of action for each sector according to its emissions. The priority is to reduce them drastically.
The energy sector is responsible for 34% of global greenhouse gas emissions
There is no doubt that stepping away from fossil fuels is no longer an option. A major and systemic transition must therefore be implemented to move to lower emission production modes. Moreover, the cost of low-carbon energies is decreasing, making them even more accessible. However, it is important to remember that this energy transition cannot be considered without a reduction in our consumption.
No new oil, gas or coal exploitation must be created, and the existing ones must be stopped as soon as possible.
"It is time to stop burning our planet and invest in renewable energies" António Guterres, UN Secretary General
But we are not only burning our planet with fossil fuels, but much of this activity is also invisible and takes place in our Ocean.
The previous part of the IPCC report emphasized the importance of adaptation for our societies to cope with the effects of climate change. However, mitigation measures remain the key to achieving the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
It is necessary to reduce the impact of the strategic sector represented by the blue economy. With 90% of our goods travelling by sea, shipping transport must evolve towards more respectful and decarbonized practices, as encouraged by the Green Marine Europe label.
But a large part of the impacts linked to the blue economy occur below the surface. Surfrider Europe is advocating for a quick end of fossil fuel use through its "#Drilling IsKilling" campaign to end offshore drilling.
As indicated in the last part of the IPCC report, a pathway supporting renewable energies such as marine renewable energies (MRE) is needed. Surfrider is supporting local concertation to diversify the energy mix and integrate MREs into the economic, social and environmental landscape.
However, it is important to remember that all energy production affects the environment: the best energy is the one we do not produce.