HARRISBURG, Pa. — In the third installment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report on climate change, scientists from across the world emphasize the need for immediate action to reduce greenhouse gasses.
“The big message from the report is that the climate problem is getting worse, but the solutions are getting better," says Dr. Gregory Nemet, Professor of public affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a lead author for part of the report. “The problem is getting worse because we’ve delayed action, and we haven’t actually reduced emissions, even though we see some progress in a few places."
The IPCC report states that total greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise from 2010 to 2019, though the rate of growth in that time period was lower than the rate of the previous decade.
The report is firm on the fact that without immediate emission reductions across all sectors, limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius as outlined in the 2015 Paris Agreement is beyond reach.
According to IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair Jim Skea, "It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C. Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible.”
In the United States, Nemet says, the most significant greenhouse gas emissions sources are the power sector, transportation sector, and industry.
"And we know from this assessment in the report that we have tools and strategies in each of those areas," he says.
These tools include moving away from coal and switching to renewable energies, transitioning from gasoline power to electric powered vehicles, and much more.
Another highlight of the report is that the cost of these solutions is continuing to fall.
“The solutions getting better really comes across in looking at technologies like solar, like wind, like electric vehicles, where their costs have fallen by 85% in the case of solar and batteries, and their adoption has increased by orders of magnitude," says Nemet.
Experts say these climate mitigation solutions must be deployed rapidly to limit warming past the 1.5 degree Celsius threshold. The report also stresses the need for international cooperation to achieve climate change mitigation goals.