It's not shocking news that we have a lot of work to do in correcting climate change. But a recent UN climate report says serious repercussions might come sooner than we thought unless we take drastic action.
The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the body in charge of collecting and reporting data from the scientific community on climate science. The IPCC synthesizes the findings of thousands of scientific studies about climate change to policymakers and global leaders.
Their goal is to convey what the scientific community as a whole concludes about current conditions and risks. Here’s what they had to say in their recent report.
Important timelines in the UN Climate Report
Our world is warmer than it was before the industrial revolution. This rise in temperature is already causing problems. We’re seeing more intense and destructive weather, melting ice caps, and rising sea levels causing coastal flooding.
The IPCC reports that we’ll see the compounding negative effects of these issues on a massive scale much sooner than expected. In fact, the 2 degrees C temperature limit outlined in the Paris Agreement, an international pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in 2015, is not enough.
The report predicts catastrophic problems with food production and supply, more savage wildfires, and a widespread die-off of coral reefs. All of this could happen as soon as 2040.
While problems with food supply and damaging wildfires are obvious, it might not be immediately clear why coral reefs matter so much. Coral reefs are some of the most ecologically diverse organisms on the planet.
They provide protection and food for fish and sea life, protect coastlines from harsh weather events, help filter impurities from the water, and are even being used in developing promising new medicines for devastating diseases. Coral reef extinction would be a severe blow to the world’s food supply and its geological stability.
The report warns that if we allow greenhouse gas emissions to continue at their current pace, we could see temperatures rise 1.5 degrees C by the year 2040. These temperatures would mean far more severe weather events, food shortages, and more widespread poverty well within our lifetimes. Climate change is no longer a far-off issue to think about tomorrow.
Preventing Detrimental Climate Change Temps
Here’s a summary of what the report lays out as essential to prevent crossing a dangerous line in climate change.
By 2030, we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45 percent by 2030 and 100 percent by 2050
We must reduce the use of coal as an electricity source from nearly 40 percent today to between 1 and 7 percent by 2050
Renewable energy such as wind and solar as electricity sources would have to increase to as much as 67 percent by 2050
These are tall orders. But before you get discouraged, there is a highlight of positivity in the UN climate report. Valerie Masson-Delmotte, one author within the United Nations’ IPCC, says,
“The good news is that some of the kinds of actions that would be needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C are already underway around the world, but they would need to accelerate.”
Impact Investing to Work Against Climate Change
Some of the entities accelerating action against these enormous climate change problems are companies like Air Products & Chemicals, Inc. This team of innovators has been pioneering clean, hydrogen energy for more than 50 years. They’re building the hydrogen-fueling infrastructure, laying out the groundwork for more renewable energy in the future.
Other companies combatting climate change now include Cummings, Inc. in our Zero Waste portfolio. They treat engine exhaust, cutting down carbon emissions to reduce smog and slow climate impact. Tenneco, Inc., another company in Zero Waste, has technology that reduces nitrous oxide emissions, which is a major greenhouse gas offender.
By investing in these companies, you can directly impact climate change. You’re funding the crucial research and innovation to keep planet Earth stable, rich, and vibrant for ages to come.
What about if we don’t make the temperature limit goal? Are we doomed? To find out what the UN report says about overshooting the temperature limit, watch for our next blog post, UN Climate Change Report Part 2 - Counteraction.