The time to step up and make a change to save our planet has drastically came knocking on our door. According to a new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), governments must curb fossil fuel use immediately or the Earth will exceed the critical global warming threshold even sooner than we thought.
In a comprehensive study released Monday, the IPCC said global temperatures will rise 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels sometime in the early 2030s. While many governments have committed to net-zero emissions by 2050 or 2060, according to this body, that's simply not enough. Temperatures have already risen by 1.1 degrees Celsius, so greenhouse gas emissions must be halved by 2030 to keep warming below 1.5 degrees. In addition, developed countries must stop emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by the early 2050s. . Even if these two ambitious targets are met, there is only a 50 percent chance of keeping warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.
"The pace and scale of what has been done and the current plans are not enough to tackle climate change," said IPCC Chair Lee Hoesung. "We walk when we should run."
Fortunately, experts say all hope is not lost. And they provided a roadmap to ensure the world's people know how they can help reduce emissions. While their proposals call for bold and swift action, the group also recognises the need to help our planet thrive for generations to come. “Mainstreaming effective and equitable climate action will not only reduce losses and damages for nature and people, it will also provide wider benefits,” says Lee.
The IPCC notes that extreme weather caused by global warming is already happening around the world. Heavy rainfall, extreme heat and long periods of drought are already making life difficult for people and animals in all countries. So what can we do to make a difference? Any action aimed at avoiding further greenhouse gas emissions can have a positive impact. That means walking, cycling or using public transport instead of driving to improve air quality. Experts also advocate conserving and protecting 30-50% of Earth's land, fresh water and oceans to keep the planet healthy.
The study also specifically points to food, electricity, transport, industry, buildings and land use as areas where significant changes can be made to reduce emissions. And in the process, they can also make it easier for people to lead low-carbon lives, which can benefit the planet and improve their health.
But to really make a difference, the entire planet must work together and put aside its individual needs for our future. “Transformative change is more likely to succeed when there is trust, when everyone works together to reduce risk, and when the benefits and challenges are shared equally,” argues Li. “We live in a diverse world, where everyone has different responsibilities and different has opportunities to make changes.”