Without significant increases in the speed and ambition of climate action across all of society, limiting global warming to 1.5°C will be beyond reach, according to a major international report published today.
Researchers from the University of Leeds have worked with hundreds of experts from across the world to deliver the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which assesses the methods for reducing emissions and removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
The costs of solar and wind energy have also fallen by up to 85%. Yet, average annual greenhouse gas emissions were at their highest levels in human history in the decade to 2019.
Major transitions are needed in the energy sector, including a substantial reduction in the use of fossil fuels, widespread electrification, improved energy efficiency, and the use of alternative fuels such as hydrogen.
Many of these changes will also enhance health and wellbeing, employment, and equality.
Priestley Chair in Interdisciplinary Climate Research, Professor Jason Lowe, was Review Editor for the introductory chapter of the report.
Jan Minx, Professor of Climate Change and Public Policy in the School of Earth and Environment, was Coordinating Lead Author for the chapter that examines trends and drivers of greenhouse gas emissions.
Professor Minx said: “For the last three years scientists have brought their expertise to the IPCC to help the world understand how greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced in line with the international climate goals in order to avoid the most serious impacts of climate change.
“The aim of this report is to give decision-makers in government and the private sector the insight required to identify the options available for the transformation to a net zero society.”
Urgent action needed
According to the authors of the report, the next few years are critical. Limiting warming to around 1.5°C requires global greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025, and to have reduced by 43% by 2030.
The 1.5°C target was established by the Paris Agreement in 2015, committed to by nearly 200 nations.
Dr Houesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC, said: “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. 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.”
The IPCC is the leading world body for assessing the science related to climate change, its impacts and potential future risks, and possible response options.
The report published today is the latest in a series of reports that make up the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6). It is the first major assessment of climate solutions since 2013.
Leeds researchers also contributed significantly to the first instalment – Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis – which was published in August 2021, and the second report – Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability – published in March 2022.
For many years, Leeds climate researchers have provided cutting edge expertise across regional, national and international scales. Recently, this contribution has been awarded a Queens Anniversary Prize – the country’s most prestigious higher education honour.
Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change is available to read in full.
Several IPCC authors will be speaking at a webinar hosted by the Priestley Centre and the Met Office on Wednesday 6 April 2022.
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