A new study published on Tuesday by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) highlights the urgent need for carbon emission reduction to strengthen greener economies and to have an impact on climate change efforts.
Lower-carbon economies are not a new initiative, but Tuesday’s report adds depth to the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) role in supporting clean energy. The ILO as an observer organization looks to aid in “resource-efficient economic growth, create income and decent jobs, and reduce poverty and inequality.” The ILO stresses the impact that climate change and environmental degradation have on economic growth around the world, and how, if climate change action is managed correctly, it could lead to an increase in jobs.
The report, written by 278 scientists from 65 countries noted that greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), specifically carbon emissions between 2010 and 2019 were higher than in any previous decade. Based on estimates, the carbon emissions in this timeframe make up about four fifths of the remaining “carbon budget,” a number denoting the maximum amount of net carbon emissions that could result in limiting global warming. The report states that without immediate reductions across every sector, limiting global warming to 1.5° C will not be possible. 1.5° C is the irreversible number that we expect global warming temperatures to rise to between 2030 and 2052.
According to the authors, the main area needing substantive transitions is in the energy sector. Ways to do this include “widespread electrification of the energy system” and “alternative fuel systems such as hydrogen and hydrogen derivatives.” In addition, there would need to be changes in the aviation and shipping industries to provide some mitigation potential, something electrification could play a role in. Electrification refers to the process of replacing direct fossil fuel use with electricity to better reduce emissions and energy costs.
In December of 2021, the UN Climate Change Conference accepted the Just Transition Declaration, a proposal with a goal to make sure no one is left behind in the transition process moving forward. This proposal works to mitigate the harm caused to those working in affected sectors, and cities that rely on carbon-intensive industries to thrive. The IPCC report makes it clear that in order to succeed in climate change efforts moving forward, we need everyone’s help, and at the center of that effort is international cooperation.