The United Nations’ climate change panel is calling for a “substantial reduction” in the global use of fossil fuels in order to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
Warning there is limited time to act, the latest report from the panel says that by 2030, greenhouse gas emissions need to be cut by at least 43 percent to prevent 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming at the end of the century — a key threshold that would help the world evade much of the potential climate damage.
“We have a really, really stark task ahead of us,” said Stephanie Roe, a lead author of the report and global climate and energy lead scientist at the World Wildlife Fund.
Panel urges 'large-scale' action: “The amount of emission reductions that we need to achieve over the next decade is unprecedented and … it needs to be almost immediate, as soon a possible, and it needs to be at a very large scale,” Roe said.
The report also calls for emissions to reach their peak in the next few years, before 2025 at the latest.
Jim Skea, co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which produced the report, warned that the next few years are critical.
“It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C,” Skea said in a statement.
Drilling down on the specifics: To make the necessary reductions, the report calls for limiting the use of fossil fuels.
Combustion of fossil fuels and industrial processes are responsible for about 78 percent of climate-warming emissions over the past several decades.
In particular, the U.N. report calls for limiting the use of coal by 95 percent, oil by 60 percent and natural gas by 45 percent in 2050 when compared to their use in 2019.
To limit warming to 2 degrees Celsius — which would allow substantially more climate-caused harm — the use of these fuels would need to be cut by 85 percent, 30 percent and 15 percent, respectively, by 2050 compared to their 2019 level.
These declines factor in the use of carbon capture, a still developing technology that is used to capture and store emissions from burning fossil fuels and other emitting activities.
Read more about the report here.