Climate scientists are not known for giving good news, and the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that convened in South Korea was no exception: the scientists that compiled a special report on the climate situation on the planet slapped optimists in the face: the world needs to spend US$2.4 trillion every year until 2035 to slow down the effects of climate change.
Perhaps shockingly, the panel noted that at the current warming rates, Earth’s atmosphere will in less than one hundred years be 3 degrees Celsius warmer than it was before the start of the Industrial revolution, which is twice what the Paris Agreement stipulated in one of its scenarios. No wonder that the panel is calling for following the 1.5-degree scenario instead of the 2-degree one, which was widely seen as more realistic. Realistic or not, apparently, the world needs to work towards a temperature climb reduction of 1.5 degrees, the panel says.
The 1.5-degree scenario will require cutting CO2 emissions by as much as 45 percent over the 20-year period from 2010 to 2030 and to a net zero by 2050—net zero meaning that all CO2 released will need to be captured and stored or reused. But that’s just one aspect of the seismic shift that humankind would have to affect to curb the temperature rise.
Another aspect would be the phase-out of coal and a reduction in the amount of natural gas used for power generation. To some observers unburdened by excessive planetary anxiety, this would probably sound ridiculous: natural gas has emerged as the lesser evil compared with coal and oil, the so-called bridge fuel to a future powered entirely by renewable sources.
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