Addressing climate change requires a swift overhaul of our global systems in terms of transportation, consumption, energy usage, and daily activities, according to a significant UN assessment. This marks the first “global stocktake” examining countries’ efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015. While there has been some progress, there is a pressing need for substantial expansion of these efforts.
The climate change report of UN emphasizes the necessity for “radical decarbonization” involving the rapid phasing out of fossil fuels, without relying on carbon capture technologies. Fossil fuels like oil, gas, and coal are major sources of carbon dioxide emissions, the primary driver of climate change. Carbon capture techniques in industrial processes and power plants capture and either reuse or store most of the CO2 produced, preventing its release into the atmosphere.
Additionally, the report underscores the need for a significant expansion of renewable energy sources, while urging a halt and reversal of deforestation by 2030.
This stocktake report will take center stage in global climate discussions in Dubai later this year, and political leaders will review it. Over the past two years, the UN has been assessing the commitments made by countries that signed the Paris Agreement in 2015. During that historic meeting, nations pledged to limit the increase in global temperatures since the industrial revolution to well below 2 degrees Celsius and strive to keep it below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The report evaluates countries’ efforts to reduce carbon emissions, adapt to climate change, and provide financial and technological assistance to poorer nations dealing with the climate crisis. It does not single out or blame specific countries but rather evaluates the collective approach to addressing the issue.
While acknowledging progress, the report highlights that the projected global temperature rise for this century still exceeds the targets set in Paris. Achieving those goals will require a substantial increase in ambition, as outlined in the stocktake, which calls for a comprehensive “system transformation.”
This transformation entails changing every facet of our societies to combat rising temperatures, including energy production, transportation, work, and food production. Experts stress that governments must lead and ensure that their climate initiatives do not counteract other policies and investments.
The report strongly advocates for the rapid expansion of renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power while asserting that fossil fuels without carbon capture have no place in a sustainable future. The stocktake identifies these changes as “essential components” of a just transition to achieve net-zero emissions by the mid-21st century.