The recent UN review on climate change delivers a clear message: we must rapidly overhaul the fundamental workings of our world to combat this escalating crisis. This marks the inaugural "global stocktake" evaluating nations' endeavours to curb emissions since the signing of the Paris Agreement in 2015. While commendable strides have been made, the urgency now demands an exponential escalation of efforts.
The report unequivocally calls for "radical decarbonisation," advocating an expeditious phasing out of fossil fuels devoid of carbon capture technology. The combustion of fossil fuels for power generation releases carbon dioxide, a primary catalyst of climate change. Carbon capture, a process employed in industrial and power facilities, effectively mitigates CO₂ emissions, either through reuse or secure subterranean storage.
Renewable energy stands as a cornerstone in this battle. Significantly expanding the scope of renewable sources, such as wind and solar power, is imperative. Simultaneously, forest conservation must not only cease but be actively reversed by 2030. The stocktake report is slated to be pivotal in global climate discussions in Dubai later this year, commanding the attention of political leaders worldwide.
Over the past two years, the UN scrutinized the commitments of nations that ratified the Paris Agreement. Originally, these nations pledged to limit post-industrial revolution warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, with an aspiration to maintain it under 1.5 degrees Celsius. This report meticulously assesses their strides in reducing carbon emissions, adapting to climate shifts, and leveraging financial and technological resources to assist less affluent nations.
Importantly, the report refrains from assigning blame to specific nations, instead focusing on a collective approach to tackling the crisis. Although progress is evident, the projected rise in global temperatures for this century surpasses the Paris Agreement's initial promises. Upholding these objectives necessitates a substantial augmentation of ambition, calling for a comprehensive "system transformation."
This entails a profound overhaul of every facet of our societies—from energy production and transportation to employment and food production. Experts stress that governments must proactively champion climate actions while ensuring they are not counteracted by conflicting policies and investments.
Dr. Richard Klein of the Stockholm Environment Institute, a contributor to the stocktake's early stages, emphasizes this as a call to seize control of our destiny: either we proactively reshape society to avert the worst effects of climate change, or we allow climate change to dictate our future, a future likely fraught with unforeseeable challenges.
The report emphatically endorses the rapid expansion of renewable energy sources, highlighting wind and solar power. It unequivocally states that fossil fuels lacking carbon capture technology are incompatible with a sustainable future. According to the stocktake, these are indispensable components of a just transition to net-zero emissions by the mid-century mark.
In the transportation sector, electric vehicles emerge as the paramount tool for mitigation. The report underscores the significance of transitioning to climate-friendly, healthful diets, reducing food waste, and cultivating sustainable agriculture in curtailing emissions.
The report also scrutinizes endeavours in climate adaptation and finance, areas that have been perennial sources of discontent for developing nations. It calls for a swift amplification of financial support from a wider array of sources.
The stocktake's intent is to ensure that the forthcoming set of carbon reduction plans, to be submitted to the UN in 2025, surpasses the current ones in terms of ambition. Additionally, this report will underpin discussions at the COP28 global climate talks slated for Dubai later this year.
Although efforts to secure an agreement on phasing out unabated fossil fuels at COP27 faced resistance from significant oil-producing nations, UN officials anticipate that this stocktake report will heighten pressure for a resolute statement at COP28.
Simon Stiell, Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change, implores governments to scrutinize the report's findings and comprehend the imperative for resolute action. Observers concur that this document serves as a wake-up call.
Ani Dasgupta from the World Resources Institute contends, "We already know the world is failing to meet its climate goals, but leaders now have a concrete blueprint underpinned by a mountain of evidence for how to get the job done." The time for action is now.