New Delhi: The world must rapidly intensify efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and phase out fossil fuels to avoid overshooting the critical 1.5-degree Celsius threshold set in the Paris Agreement, according to a new report released by the Climate Overshoot Commission. The report by the global think tank, which focuses on developing strategies to reduce the risk of overshooting the 1.5 degree Celsius threshold in warming, called for a differentiated phase-out of fossil fuels, considering each country’s unique needs and level of development.
It urged wealthy nations to hasten the reduction of their emissions and work toward achieving net-negative targets which would involve removing more carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere than they emit by 2050. This would create space for less industrialised countries to pursue clean energy transitions while addressing poverty and development challenges.
The UN in a key technical report has recently said the world is far from being on track to meet the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement and underlined the importance of scaling up renewable energy while phasing out unabated fossil fuels, a critical element in achieving net-zero emissions. Joeri Rogelj, the director of Research and Lecturer in Climate Change and the Environment at the Grantham Institute at Imperial College London, said,
The idea that we can easily control climate change in an overshoot scenario should be viewed extremely sceptically – the unknown of such a world means that there are no safe bets. The best course of action is the one we can take today. To peak emissions and then reduce them as fast as possible.
Timmons Roberts, the Professor of Environmental Sociology at Brown University in the US said,
Heading knowingly into overshoot is collective insanity, especially with the experience of climate-related disasters wreaking havoc far beyond expectations so far. The ideas that we can reliably predict the impacts and engineer our way out of the hole with unproven and uneconomic tech-fixes are two examples of socially sanctioned denial taken to the level of collective fantasies.
Governments should decide on a phase-out in the production and consumption of all fossil fuels and accelerate their trajectories to this end while broadening and deepening international discussions on this agenda, the report said.
Reductions should be differentiated according to countries’ needs and levels of development. Phased reductions of production and consumption (including subsidies) would follow. As phase-outs approach zero, essential-use exemptions should be provided for the hardest sectors to abate. Fossil fuel phase-out should ultimately and quickly be global in scope. The international community should simultaneously pursue a global green power target.
In addition to mitigating emissions, the report highlighted the importance of adapting to climate change impacts. It called for the expansion of effective adaptation measures, rooted in a comprehensive understanding of local climate risks and adaptation priorities.
The commission underscored the need to establish robust metrics to assess the effectiveness of these measures, fostering new country-led adaptation partnerships and enhancing food security through climate-resilient agricultural practices.
To tackle the rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the report acknowledged the need for significant carbon removal and secure storage methods. These approaches encompass both organic and inorganic carbon storage, with careful consideration of their co-benefits and risks.
Carbon storage strategies should aim to maximise benefits while minimising the risk of carbon re-release, the report said.
It addressed the contentious issue of solar radiation modification, a technology that seeks to reflect sunlight back into space to reduce temperatures. While acknowledging its potential to mitigate some climate risks, the commission warned of significant uncertainties, potential unintended consequences and ethical concerns.
It cautiously opposed the use of solar radiation modification at this stage but advocated for further research, particularly with a focus on developing countries.
The commission also underscored the crucial role of climate finance in supporting climate action but acknowledges the substantial shortfall in current funding levels. It emphasized the interconnectedness of climate and development finance for low-income countries and stressed the need to bridge the gap between promised and delivered climate finance.
The report called for increased mobilization of public resources, greater risk tolerance by development banks, debt relief, expanded official development assistance, and the rapid expansion of private capital flows. Additionally, it advocated for the expansion of transparent, effective, and efficient carbon markets to secure the necessary funds for climate action.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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