IMMEDIATE Action Required
Stabilizing Earth's temperature to significantly reduce risks to societies now requires greenhouse gas emissions to reach net zero by 2050. According to the IPCC, this translates to cutting greenhouse gases by about 50% by 2030, while also achieving significant removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through carbon sinks or other technological means. The IPCC acknowledges technologies capable of large-scale removal don't yet are still being researched. Technologies such as carbon capture and storage do not work at large scales; require up to 40% more fossil fuel to be burned; and are hazardous to human health and our environment.
According to scientists at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, global emissions would have to decline 60% by 2050 to stabilize CO2 concentrations at about 450 ppm by 2050. In order to achieve this, GHG emissions in industrialized countries would have to decline by about 80% by 2050. Global emissions peaked at 419.13 ppm in May of 2021. The average in May 2020 was 417 ppm.
Roadmap to Success
An international group of experts published a roadmap of the most viable solutions for slashing greenhouse gas emissions globally by 2030. before the 2019 United Nations Climate Summit in New York City. Their findings include:
- Low-cost solar, wind, and battery technologies are on profitable, exponential trajectories. If these are sustained, this could be enough to cut emissions from electricity generation in half by 2030.
- Electric vehicle growth has the potential to reach a 90% market share by 2030, but ONLY if strong policies support this direction.
- Digital technology has the potential to support a rapid transformation of our economic systems, OR it could drive emissions higher.
- Four drivers for rapid transformation are converging: growing social movements; the rise in the number of countries discussing a target of net-zero by 2050; the economic logic of rapid transition; and the speed of tech innovation.
Work with EJC
Eco-Justice Collaborative is working with organizations across the Midwest to respond to the call to preserve our planet.
CODE RED for Humanity
In August of 2021, Working Group 1 of the IPCC issued another technical paper leading to the Sixth Assessment Report. Called ARS6 Climate Change 2021, the Physical Science Basis. This report is one of the most alarming of those prepared to date. Their inescapable conclusion? The rate of warming is unprecedented. We have until 2040 to prevent a future of permanent and catastrophic climate change. The planet’s future – OUR future - is in our hands.
While a growing coalition of countries is committing to net zero emissions by 2050, countries, including the U.S. are not meeting their targets. According to the IPCC's prior report, about half of emissions cuts must be in place by 2030 to keep warming below 1.5°C. This temperature increase is the maximum allowable increase identified by scientists if we are to have a chance at avoiding irreversible climate disruption. Achieving this reduction means globally, we will need to reduce our emissions 6% per year between now and 2030.
If our global community does not succeed in slashing emissions as described in this report, we are likely to lose the opportunity to preserve a habitable planet. This news should trigger an immediate, urgent call for action.
Summary of Key Points
We need to both reduce our emissions from burning fossil fuels, and restore, protect, and expand nature's carbon sinks to achieve a net reduction of greenhouse gases overall. The following summaries highlights of the September 2021 AR6 Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis:
- In 2019, atmospheric CO2 concentrations were higher than at any time in at least 2 million years, and global surface temperature has increased faster since 1970 than in any other 50-year period in the last 2000 years or more. Global surface temperatures will continue to rise until at least 2050, even under the most rigorous emission reduction scenario.
- Changes in climatic extremes will get larger in frequency and intensity with each additional increment of global warming. Many of the changes we’re seeing right now – hotter heatwaves, stronger storms, longer droughts – will become even more intense and destructive in direct proportion to increasing temperatures. These impacts, paired with food shortages, rising sea levels, a major reduction in coral reefs, and increased climate refugees will cause suffering and loss of human life.
- High emissions scenearios project temperature increases ranging from 2.1 to 3.6°C. The difference beween the low and high emissions scenarios is the difference between the possibility of humanity thriving - or merely surviving.
- The ability of our planet’s natural systems (e.g., forests, oceans, wetlands, grasslands, prairies) to take up CO2 will decline as our emissions increase. These systems have absorbed the CO2 generated by the burning of fossil fuels and other natural processes. But they will not be able to absorb the same proportion of greenhouse gases as temperatures continue to rise.
- Approaches capable of large-scale removal of CO2 are still in the state of research and development or unproven at the scales of deployment necessary to achieve a net reduction in atmospheric CO2 levels.
- Changes in ocean temperature, glacial melt, loss of permafrost and sea level rise due to past and future emissions are irreversible for centuries or millennia.