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Sustained reductions in emissions of CO2 can still limit climate change finds IPCC report

The latest IPCC Working Group report has warned that averaged over the next 20 years, global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5°C of warming. But with the evidence clear that carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main driver of climate change, the IPCC report advises that human actions still have the potential to determine the future course of climate change.

The report provides new estimates of the chances of crossing the global warming level of 1.5°C in the next decades, and finds that unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach.

“This report is a reality check,” said IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair Valérie Masson-Delmotte. “We now have a much clearer picture of the past, present and future climate, which is essential for understanding where we are headed, what can be done, and how we can prepare.”

“Climate change is already affecting every region on Earth, in multiple ways. The changes we experience will increase with additional warming,” added IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair Panmao Zhai.

The report also shows that human actions still have the potential to determine the future course of climate. The evidence is clear that carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main driver of climate change, even as other greenhouse gases and air pollutants also affect the climate.

“Stabilizing the climate will require strong, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and reaching net zero CO2 emissions. Limiting other greenhouse gases and air pollutants, especially methane, could have benefits both for health and the climate,” said Zhai.

Responding to the report, Julie Hirigoyen, Chief Executive at UKGBC said:

“This report should be a massive wake-up call for governments across the globe. It reinforces the growing evidence base that too many commitments are being missed, and that current pledges must be scaled up and matched with plans to deliver urgent change.”

With 21-22 per cent of the UK’s total carbon emissions (including imported emissions) directly controlled by the built environment sector, it is clear our sector has a significant role to play. Tackling this challenge will be tough, but it also represents a huge opportunity to deliver valuable green jobs and better, healthier places. Built environment businesses can, and must, lead the charge.

As COP hosts, the UK Government must show clear leadership and embed ambitious climate action across all its flagship policies, from planning reform and tougher building regulations to home retrofit incentives and ‘levelling-up’. Delays to key initiatives, such as the Heat and Buildings strategy, have led to considerable uncertainty in the industry. The sooner the direction of travel is made clear, the quicker the costs of new technologies will come down, which is vital for consumers.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report can be accessed here.

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