Now, with the price of renewable energy plummeting, humanity is decarbonizing. Wind energy prices fell 55% in the 2010s, while solar power and lithium-ion batteries were 85% cheaper than he expected, much cheaper than researchers expected. Falling prices have enabled the widespread use of solar panels and reduced our dependence on fossil fuels. Scientists are scrambling to find out where to put it all: rooftop gardens, cultivated fields, over canals, floating in reservoirs.
The report “makes it clear that the world has made some progress on climate change. There is some good news,” said Zeke Hausfather, a research scientist at Stripe and the nonprofit Berkeley Earth. says. “At the same time, there is a huge gap between where we are now, and where countries have pledged for his 2030, and what is needed to meet the most ambitious climate goals. I have.”
The future is uncertain. When scientists model climate change, they imagine different scenarios in which humanity reduces, stabilizes, or increases emissions. These models spit out different numbers for their warming potential. Not long ago, scientists 4 or 5 degrees Considering the emission route, it may be possible. But last year’s modeling by Hausfather and his colleagues found that he could keep warming below 2 degrees if countries keep their cut promises. “We can be cautiously optimistic about the direction of these trends, and we also recognize that technology alone cannot save us all,” he said. increase. “Without stronger policies to drive these adoptions, we will not be able to meet our goals.”
The IPCC’s new report falls somewhere in between these ranges. It warns that global warming could rise by about 3 degrees Celsius by 2100 unless policy makers become more ambitious about cuts. Given the severity of environmental damage, if we are already seeing 1.1 degrees of warming, it will be an immense escalation.
Hausfather sees hope that we can avoid this future. Last year, the United States passed the Inflation Reduction Act. The law allocates hundreds of billions of dollars to boost the green economy and encourage people to build climate-smart homes. The Ukrainian invasion forced Europe to move away from Russian gas and adopt cleaner technologies such as heat pumps. “What China is doing with electric vehicles is huge,” said Hausfather, referring to the country’s rapid adoption of EVs. And as renewable energy prices drop, “solving this will probably be a lot cheaper than he thought 10 years ago,” he continues.
But decarbonizing the food system will be more difficult. A study released earlier this month estimated that the industry alone could add 1 degree Celsius of warming by 2100. But it also points to a powerful lever that can be pulled to control emissions. Livestock farming (cows belch a lot) and rice farming (gas-producing bacteria grow in paddy fields).Methane is 80 times more powerful than CO2, but disappears from the atmosphere in decades, not centuries. Changes such as reducing demand for beef and developing feed additives to keep cows from burping can all help mitigate warming quickly.
Decarbonization also has other benefits known as multi-solving, the report points out. For example, adding green space to a city will absorb carbon, cool the air, reduce flooding, and improve mental health. Residents will also be able to grow more food themselves, increasing food security while reducing transport emissions. Switching from gasoline to EVs reduces both carbon dioxide and air pollution. “Suddenly, this transition to net zero is a huge win for public health around the world,” said Elizabeth Her Sawin, founder and director of the Multisolving Institute, which focuses on solving climate problems. says.
The final installment of this IPCC series lands at a moment when humanity is at a crossroads. Do business as usual or accelerate the green revolution. “Acting now can ensure a livable and sustainable future for all,” his IPCC chair Hoesung Lee said in a statement.