IPCC Sixth Assessment Report- Part 3
25th Apr, 2022
Recently Third part of IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report which talks about the possibilities of reducing emissions has been released.
- The first part, centered around climate change’ scientific basis, was released last August. The second instalment, which talked about climate change impacts, risks and vulnerabilities, and adaptation options has been released in March 2022.
- The Assessment Reports, the first of which was in 1990, are the most comprehensive evaluations of the Earth’s climate.
- Hundreds of experts go through every piece of relevant and published scientific information available to prepare a common understanding of climate change.
- The four subsequent reports came out in 1995, 2001, 2007, and 2015. These are the basis of the global response on climate change.
- The Paris Agreement, negotiated on the basis of the Fifth Assessment Report.
- The Assessment Reports are prepared by three working groups of scientists.
- Working Group-I - Deals with the scientific basis for climate change.
- Working Group-II - Looks at the likely impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptation issues.
- Working Group-III - Deals with actions that can be taken to combat climate change.
Key findings of the report:
Issue at hand:
- Governments agreed in the 2015 Paris accord to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius this century, ideally no more than 5 degrees Celsius.
- Yet temperatures have already increased by over 1.1C since pre-industrial times, resulting in measurable increases in disasters such flash floods, prolonged droughts, more intense hurricanes and longer-burning wildfires, putting human lives in danger and costing governments hundreds of billions of dollars to confront.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions:
- In 2019, global net anthropogenic Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions were at 59 Gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e), 54% higher than in 1990.
- But the average annual rate of growth slowed to 3% per year in the period 2010-19, compared to 2.1% per year in the period 2000-09.
- At least 18 countries have reduced GHG emissions for longer than 10 years on a continuous basis due to decarbonisation of their energy system, energy efficiency measures and reduced energy demand.
Net Emission: Net emissions refer to emissions accounted for after deducting emissions soaked up by the world’s forests and oceans.
Anthropogenic Emission: Anthropogenic emissions refer to emissions that originate from human-driven activities like the burning of coal for energy or cutting of forests.
Emission by the Least Developed Countries:
- Carbon inequality remains pervasive as ever with Least Developed Countries (LDCs) emitting only 3% of global emissions in 2019.
- Their average per capita emissions in the period 1990-2019 were only 7 tonnes CO2e, compared to the global average of 6.9 tCO2e.
- LDCs contributed less than 0.4% of total historical CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industry in the period 1850-2019.
- Globally, 41% of the world’s population lived in countries emitting less than 3 tCO2e per capita in 2019.
- IPCC finds that it is likely that warming will exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius (°C) in this century, thereby failing the Paris Agreement’s mandate.
- The CO2 emissions from existing and planned fossil fuel infrastructure — coal, oil, and gas — contribute greatly to this projected failure.
- In its best-case scenario, known as the C1 pathway, the IPCC outlines what the world needs to do to limit temperatures to 1.5°C, with limited or no ‘overshoot’.
- To achieve the C1 pathway, global GHG emissions must fall by 43% by 2030.
Overshoot refers to global temperatures crossing the 1.5°C threshold temporarily, but then being brought back down using technologies that suck CO2 out of the atmosphere.
Low Emissions Technologies:
- This could require measures such as the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere with natural or artificial means, but also potentially risky technologies such as pumping aerosols into the sky to reflect sunlight.
- Among the solutions recommended are a rapid shift away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy such as solar and wind, the electrification of transport, more efficient use of resources and massive financial support for poor countries unable to pay for such measures without help.
- One move often described as “low-hanging fruit” by scientists is to plug methane leaks from mines, wells and landfills that release the potent but short-lived greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.
- The costs of low emissions technologies have fallen continuously since 2010. On a unit costs basis, solar energy has dropped 85%, wind by 55 %, and lithium-ion batteries by 85%.
- Their deployment, or usage, has increased multiple fold since 2010 — 10 times for solar and 100 times for electric vehicles
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the international body for assessing the science related to climate change.
- The IPCC was set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
- It aims to provide policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.