Ways to avert dan­ger­ous cli­mate change spelt out

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - MELANIE GOSLING

IT IS pos­si­ble to stay within the 2°C limit and avoid dan­ger­ous cli­mate change, ac­cord­ing to a UN re­port re­leased ahead of the UN cli­mate change talks in Lima later this month.

The re­port, re­leased by the UN En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gramme, called The Gap Re­port, sets out the path­ways the world must follow if it is to avoid dan­ger­ous cli­mate change, and fo­cuses on a tran­si­tion to a low-car­bon econ­omy.

To keep the av­er­age in­crease in the global tem­per­a­ture be­low 2°C, global green­house gas emis­sions will have to:

Reach a ceil­ing around 2020 and be­gin de­creas­ing by 2030;

Be at least 50 per­cent lower by 2050 than they were in 2010;

Reach a net zero in the sec­ond half of the cen­tury, with any re­main­ing emis­sions off­set by re-af­foresta­tion and other means.

Be­cause there is al­ready so much car­bon diox­ide in the at­mos­phere, world tem­per­a­tures will in­crease over the next few decades, even if all green­house gas emis­sions were to cease to­day. This is be­cause of the long life­span of CO2 in the at­mos­phere.

Emis­sions have to be rad­i­cally re­duced to avoid go­ing beyond 2°C – which would take the world into what has been called dan­ger­ous cli­mate change, where ecosys­tems, liveli­hoods and economies are threat­ened.

The Gap Re­port also fo­cuses on the ur­gency to act now to achieve ever higher tar­gets to cut emis­sions be­fore 2020.

UN Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change chief Chris­tiana Figueres said: “This im­por­tant re­port un­der­scores the re­al­ity that at some point in the sec­ond half of the cen­tury, we need to have achieved cli­mate neu­tral­ity – or as some term it, zero net or net zero – in terms of over­all global emis­sions.”

It re­port em­pha­sises what needs to be done if cli­mate change is to be tack­led ef­fec­tively. It says en­ergy ef­fi­ciency has to be scaled up, rang­ing from more en­ergy-ef­fi­cient ap­pli­ances, light­ing stan­dards, and tighter build­ing reg­u­la­tions and ve­hi­cle fuel norms.

The re­port sug­gests that im­proved en­ergy ef­fi­ciency has the po­ten­tial to re­duce green­house gas emis­sions by be­tween 3 and 7 gi­ga­tons of car­bon diox­ide equiv­a­lent a year.

Other key find­ings of the re­port un­der­line the wider, sus­tain­able-de­vel­op­ment im­per­a­tive of ad­dress­ing cli­mate change, as well as re­duc­ing air pol­lu­tion and health threats.

The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion re­ports that 7 mil­lion peo­ple die pre­ma­turely each year from in­door and out­door air pol­lu­tion, mostly in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.

En­ergy ef­fi­ciency im­prove­ments re­duce fos­sil fuel use and there­fore air pol­lu­tion emis­sions. The re­port says a re­duc­tion in air pol­lu­tion could avoid 100,000 pre­ma­ture deaths ev­ery year by 2030 in the US, the EU, In­dia, Brazil, China and Mex­ico.

Other spin-offs from en­ergy ef­fi­ciency in­cludes lower en­ergy costs, which makes en­ergy more ac­ces­si­ble to poor. Adopt­ing en­ergy ef­fi­ciency projects also leads to job cre­ation.

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