climate mitigation

UN warns the world must start clean energy revolution now to avert climate disaster

IPCC stated renewable energy technologies like wind power had come a long way since 2007. Photo credit: Thomas Rousing via Flickr.

By Anders Lorenzen

Less than two weeks since the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its report on the impacts on climate change, they released the long awaited third installment of the Fifth Assessment Report. The report: Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change says CO2 emissions from the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation have risen to unprecedented levels, despite countries putting policies in place to deal with climate change.

The report states that green technologies have come a long way since the last report was released in 2007. In 2012 over half of all new electricity generation capacity came from renewables led by growth in wind, solar and hydro, but to grow renewables at the scale that is needed, and to ensure maturity in emerging renewable technologies, national policy support was needed.

But, the authors warned we face an uphill battle to stay below a two degree temperature rise. So far, the only thing countries have been able to agree on in the ongoing negotiation to reach a global climate treaty in 2015, is that temperature rise must stay below two degrees. This is the number scientists say we must stay below in order to avoid runaway dangerous climate change.

Alongside ambitiously scaling up our deployment of renewable energy, the IPCC report states that land use also has a role in reducing CO2 emissions. To even out the global scale of deforestation, afforestation has a great potential to store and capture carbon. But what, quite likely, is going to worry green campaigners, is that the IPCC said that gas will be needed. Highly efficient gas turbine power plants could reduce CO2 emissions significantly, but only if they were to replace coal. Nuclear also holds a key role in phasing out fossil fuel use. The authors found it’s a mature low carbon energy technology, but globally it has been gradually declining since 1993 due to several risks such as operational, safety and financial risks. Despite all the technological foundations in place for it, Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), has yet to be demonstrated on a large scale the authors note. It could be seen in operation if national policies made an incentive for the adoption of the technology.

In order to limit warming to a two degree temperature rise, it would be required that global CO2 emissions to be reduced by 40 to 70 percent compared to 2010 levels by mid-century and to near zero at the end of this century.

One of the reports leading authors Ottmar Edenhofer said:

“Climate change is a global commons problem. International cooperation is key
for achieving mitigation goals. Putting in place the international institutions needed for cooperation is a challenge in itself.”

The IPCC emphasized that adopting energy efficiency measures are also key in meeting decarbonisation goals. The task in front of us is huge and it will require decarbonisation from energy production and use, transport, buildings, industry, land use, and human settlements.
Everything is needed to stay below a two degree warming. The notion from the UN is that it’s possible, but nations across the globe must unite around that goal and work should start now.

Sub edited by Charlotte Paton

Related news:
UN: Nobody on this planet will be untouched by climate change 

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