To limit global warming to an extent that keeps impacts manageable, it is clear that we need to stop emitting greenhouse gases as fast as possible. In 2015, all countries agreed in the Paris Agreement that we need to achieve net zero emissions in the second half of the century. However, we are still continuing to increase global emissions.
The good news is –
there is a lot we can do…
…but we must do it – NOW!
We are on the brink of missing the opportunity to limit global warming to 1.5°C
GHG emissions continue to rise, despite scientific warnings and political commitments. Emissions need to be dramatically reduced by 2030, to enable us to remain below 1.5°C or 2°C – both already leading to severe impacts.
The challenge remains huge, but we have a wide range of solutions already at our disposal.
What needs to happen
Each sector needs to contribute to the mitigation effort. In many sectors this includes technical solutions, but changes in behaviour are also an important element.
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The role of geoengineering
With increasing urgency of climate change and a rapidly decreasing time horizon come demands and ideas for technical fixes for the climate problem. Unfortunately, effective technical measures will very likely come with strong negative side- and after-effects, many of which will have themselves unforeseeable consequences. Also, many proposed measures are at this point still science fiction. Instead of hoping for technology to save us, we need to utilise all readily available options to decrease our footprint on the planet.
The role of carbon capture and storage
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) catches CO2 emissions from power stations and industrial installations, and buries them underground.
Catching emissions emanating from renewable biofuels essentially removes carbon from the atmosphere. While by no means perfect, this technology will be important for zero-carbon pathways.
None of these technologies can replace the fast and ambitious reduction of greenhouse gases. They may offer additional options if reductions are not fast enough, but they are expensive and carry risks that are – in the case of geoengineering – barely understood.