The UN's Climate Change Body Says Carbon Emissions Need To be Cut Quickly And Sharply

Getty/Xurxo Lobato

Global carbon emissions need to be cut by up to 70% by 2050 to ensure manageable climate change.

The UN body charged with tracking climate change says human influence is clear and growing with impacts observed on all continents.

If left unchecked, climate change will increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.

However, implementing stringent mitigations activities can ensure the impact of climate change remains within a manageable range, creating a more sustainable future.

These are among the key findings of the Synthesis Report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The Synthesis Report distils and integrates the findings of the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report produced by more than 800 scientists and released over the past 13 months, the most comprehensive assessment of climate change undertaken.

“We have the means to limit climate change,” says R. K. Pachauri, Chair of the IPCC.

“The solutions are many and allow for continued economic and human development. All we need is the will to change, which we trust will be motivated by knowledge and an understanding of the science of climate change.”

The Synthesis Report confirms that climate change is being registered around the world and warming of the climate system is unequivocal.

“Our assessment finds that the atmosphere and oceans have warmed, the amount of snow and ice has diminished, sea level has risen and the concentration of carbon dioxide has increased to a level unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years,” says Thomas Stocker, co chair of IPCC Working Group I.

The report expresses with greater certainty than in previous assessments the fact that emissions of greenhouse gases have been the dominant cause of observed warming since the mid-20th century.

The report find that it is technically feasible to transition to a low-carbon economy.

But what is lacking are policies.

The Synthesis Report finds that mitigation cost estimates vary but that global economic growth would not be strongly affected.

In business-as-usual scenarios, consumption grows by 1.6% to 3% per year over the 21st century.

Ambitious mitigation would reduce this by about 0.06% percentage points.

To keep a good chance of staying below 2 Degrees Celsius, and at manageable costs, emissions need to drop by 40% to 70% globally between 2010 and 2050, falling to zero or below by 2100.

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