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World On Pace to Hit 4.8ºC by End of Century, Says UN Scientific Panel


Fast actions to cut short-lived climate pollutants can help, along with expanding renewable energy, other measures

Washington, DC, 14 April 2014 – Global greenhouse gas emissions increased by the equivalent of ten billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) between 2000 and 2010, according to a new report released this week by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and half of all human CO2 emissions between 1750 and 2010 have occurred in the last forty years. Without additional efforts to significantly cut emissions, global temperatures could hit a staggering 4.8C above pre-industrial temperatures by the end of the century, with potentially disastrous consequences for humanity, ecosystems, and sustainable development.

The report entitled Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change, is the third of three Working Group Reports, which make up the IPCC’s fifth Assessment Report on climate change. The report, produced by 235 authors from 58 countries, analyzed approximately 1200 climate scenarios investigating the economic, technological and institutional requirements for meeting global climate goals. Based on this analysis, the report found that stabilizing global temperature rise at 2ºC over pre-industrial temperatures—the limit considered by many scientists to be safe— will require lowering greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 70% compared to 2010 numbers by mid-century and reaching near-zero emissions by 2100.

The IPCC also noted that many fast actions for addressing climate change are proving to be more affordable than previously imagined. According to the authors, actions to improve energy efficiency through new building codes and vehicle efficiency standards can significantly reduce emissions without harming people’s quality of life. Renewable energy, such as wind and solar, are also becoming cheaper to produce and deploy.

The report also highlighted the importance of quickly addressing emissions sources, which can reduce warming while producing co-benefits for human health and ecosystem impacts. Numerous recent studies have shown that addressing short-lived climate pollutants (SLCPs), including black carbon soot, methane, tropospheric ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons can produce significant near-term climate benefits while also improving human health, food security and energy security.

“Cutting short-lived climate pollutants could cut the current rate of climate change in half by 2050, while preventing more than 2.4 million air-pollution related deaths a year, and avoiding around 35 million tonnes of crop losses annually.” stated Durwood Zaelke, President of the Institute for Governance & Sustainable Development. “Cutting SLCPs is one of the best ways to reduce impacts over the next 50 years and beyond.”

The report noted that fast mitigation and co-benefits ‘are particularly high where currently legislated and planned air pollution controls are weak.’

“We have the technologies to cut the short-lived pollutants today,” Zaelke added. “This includes phasing down HFCs under the Montreal Protocol and using other complementary initiatives such as the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants, the only global effort focusing on these pollutants.”

Find the IPCC report here

Find IGSD Primer on Short-Lived Climate Pollutants here

Find IGSD Primer on Hydrofluorocarbons here