Stopping Climate Change Is Doable, but Time Is Short, U.N. Panel Warns
Nations need to move away much faster from fossil fuels to retain any hope of preventing a perilous future on an overheated planet, according to a major new report on climate change released on Monday, although they have made some progress because of the falling costs of clean energy. The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a body of experts convened by the United Nations, warns that unless countries drastically accelerate efforts over the next few years to slash their emissions from coal, oil and natural gas, the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, will likely be out of reach by the end of this decade. That’s the threshold beyond which scientists say the dangers of global warming - including worsening floods, droughts, wildfires and ecosystem collapse - grow considerably. Humans have already heated the planet by an average of 1.1 degrees Celsius since the 19th century, largely by burning fossil fuels for energy. Holding warming to just 1.5 degrees Celsius would require nations to collectively reduce their planet-warming emissions roughly 43 percent by 2030 and to stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere altogether by the early 2050s, the report found. By contrast, current policies by governments are only expected to reduce global emissions by a few percentage points this decade. Last year, fossil fuel emissions worldwide rebounded to near-record highs after a brief dip as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.