Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change
Released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on April 4, 2022, this report presents a global assessment of progress made towards the mitigation of climate change. It is a part of the sixth edition of assessment reports (AR6) published by the IPCC, the first of which was released in 1990. The AR6 includes the contributions of three Working Groups – this report is the contribution of Working Group III. As many as 278 authors from 65 countries contributed to this report.
The other reports making up the AR6 are Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis released by Working Group I, and Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability released by Working Group II.
The 2,913-page document contains 17 chapters: Introduction and Framing (Chapter 1); Emissions trends and drivers (Chapter 2); Mitigation pathways compatible with long-term goals (Chapter 3); Mitigation and development pathways in the near- to mid-term (Chapter 4); Demand, services and social aspects of mitigation (Chapter 5); Energy systems (Chapter 6); Agriculture, Forestry, and Other Land Uses (AFOLU) (Chapter 7); Urban systems and other settlements (Chapter 8); Buildings (Chapter 9); Transport (Chapter 10); Industry (Chapter 11); Cross sectoral perspectives (Chapter 12); National and sub-national policies and institutions (Chapter 13); International cooperation (Chapter 14); Investment and finance (Chapter 15); Innovation, technology development and transfer (Chapter 16); and Accelerating the transition in the context of sustainable development (Chapter 17).
As per the report, the total anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have continued to increase through 2010-2019. The average annual GHG emissions have been higher during this period than in the decade before, but the growth rate of the emissions has been slower.
During 2010-2019, expansions in industry, energy supply, transport, agriculture and buildings accounted for an increasing share of net anthropogenic GHG emissions. On the other hand, improvements in energy intensity – units of energy consumed per unit of gross domestic product – led to considerable reductions in GHG emissions.
The IPCC measures the impact of GHG emissions on global warming by measuring them against the amount of carbon dioxide which would lead to the same increase in global warming. In 2015, GHG emissions from urban areas were about 25 GtCO2-eq (one GtCO2-eq being equivalent to one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide). This accounted for about 62 per cent of the total global GHG emissions in 2015. The number rose to 29 GtCO2-eq, around 67-72 per cent of the total global emissions, in 2020.
After 2020, only 500 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide can be emitted before levels of global warming rise beyond 1.5°C. Moreover, about 1,150 gigatonnes of CO2 can be emitted before the rise in global warming levels increases beyond 2°C.
Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel and industrial processes temporarily fell in the first half of 2020 owing to precautions taken during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, they bounced back by the end of the year, the report states.
The report notes that a large portion of the population living in countries which emit lower levels of GHG lack access to clean, reliable, and affordable energy resources. However, eradicating extreme poverty and improving living standards in low-emission countries can be achieved without significant increase in global GHG emission levels.
The report warns that if climate change mitigation policies are not strengthened, GHG emissions would continue rising beyond the year 2025 and would result in a median warming of 3.2°C by 2100.
The report suggests that changes in urban infrastructure (density, land use, connectivity and accessibility) paired with the development of cheap public transport could reduce GHG emissions considerably.
Economic incentives to reduce GHG emissions and removal of fossil fuel subsidies would aid in reducing the impact of climate change. By 2030, removal of subsidies in fossil fuel would reduce global carbon dioxide emissions by 1-4 per cent and GHG emissions by 10 per cent. However, removal of subsidies on fossil fuels might negatively impact people who are economically vulnerable. Hence, such removal of subsidies must be accompanied by relief measures, the report adds.
In the long term, efforts for mitigating climate change which are designed keeping in mind local communities and implemented with the aims of sustainable development for all will prove to be more effective.
Focus and Factoids by Amarabati Bhattacharyya.
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Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Geneva
04 Apr, 2022