Net zero needed – stark warning from IPCC demands urgent action

‘Rapid,  far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society’ are required if humanity is to stay within the threshold of 1.5 degrees of global temperature rise and prevent really dangerous levels of climate change, according to a report released today by the UN International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Looking at the difference between 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees of warming, the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC noted a ‘substantial difference’ in effect, highlighting impacts on sea level rise and extreme weather events, with dangerous consequences for food systems, other species, health and the global economy – with the very worst effects being felt by the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.

We are currently on track to break through the 1.5 degree threshold by 2040, and on a trajectory that will see us reach 3 degrees of warming if we do not change course.

Reacting to the report, CAT Chief Executive Adrian Ramsay said:

“The IPCC have issued a wake-up call to governments around the world. If we are to prevent really dangerous levels of climate change, we need to act now to radically reduce the amount of greenhouse gases we are pumping into the atmosphere.

“The time for silver bullets or reliance on future tech has passed – we must work with proven technologies to reach net zero greenhouse gases before mid-century.  The longer we wait to take effective action, the more radical the required changes will be. The UK and other long-industrialised countries must show global leadership and help buy more time for less developed nations by aiming for net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.

“Deep-seated changes are needed to our energy supplies – with the clear need to power down energy use through improved efficiencies and to power up supply of clean energy from renewables, replacing fossil fuels. We need to transform what we eat and how we use land, and we need radical changes in transport, industry and in our economy.

“CAT’s Zero Carbon Britain research shows how this could be done using technology available today, without relying on new nuclear. Our latest report ‘Raising Ambition: Zero Carbon Scenarios from Across the Globe‘ shows how net zero greenhouse gas emissions could be achieved in countries across the world. Now we need governments to move beyond empty promises to create ambitious plans for how we will reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions before mid-century to give the world a chance to stay within the safer limit outlined by the IPCC.”