IPCC says we can halve emissions by 2030 – but how?

The UN body has revealed that if this is not achieved, 1.5°C can no longer be a possibility

Big Zero Report 2022

All sectors can at least halve emissions by 2030 with an increase in commitment to climate action.

That’s the key conclusion from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) latest report, which claims a reduction in fossil fuel use and the growth of innovative technologies such as carbon removal and electrification are the answer.

To keep the Paris Agreement alive and limit global warming to 1.5°C, the report states global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must peak before 2025 and reduce by at least 48% by the end of this decade. In addition to this, methane emissions will also need to be reduced by a third.

The IPCC reveals that even if these two key aims are met, the world will still likely peak the temperature limit, however, there will be a chance to come back down below it before the end of the century.

For 1.5°C to remain a possibility net zero must be achieved within the 2050s; if it is achieved in the 2070s, this will lead to a 2°C rise.

The scientists have revealed, however, that even for 2°C to remain a possibility, emissions must still peak by 2025 and drop by a quarter by 2030.

“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,” said Jim Skea, Co-Chair of the IPCC Working Group III.

With the next decade critical in keeping the net zero dream alive, what is the IPCC proposing as the main action the world can take to curb GHG emissions?

Growing industries such as alternative fuels like hydrogen will be imperative to clean hard-to-abate sectors and reduce the environmental impact of travel, with tourism responsible for around 8% of the world’s emissions alone.

Lowering energy consumption in cities by making them more ‘walkable’ and less reliant on cars or long journeys, electrifying transport and boosting carbon storage with nature.

With manufacturing accounting for a quarter of global emissions, the IPCC is calling for more investment into pilot schemes that make low carbon steel or net zero building materials a possibility.

It also warns that agriculture and forestry will have a far larger impact on reducing emissions than many believe. Land mass can remove and store carbon dioxide at scale, however, the body does not want this to be viewed as a fallback option for poor climate action and stresses that enhancing biodiversity and protecting food, water and wood supplies should be a priority.

The report reveals that since 2010, the cost of solar, wind and batteries have reduced by 85% and that policy must continue to enable this decrease to make clean energy the cheaper option than fossil fuels.

Hoesung Lee, IPCC Chair, commented: “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 importance of policy in the next decade was also echoed by Priyadarshi Shukla, Co-Chair of Working Group III: “Having the right policies, infrastructure and technology in place to enable changes to our lifestyles and behaviour can result in a 40-70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This offers significant untapped potential.”

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