The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns of the urgent need for action to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change. It states that "widespread and rapid" changes are necessary to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and avoid catastrophic climate impacts. However, the report also offers hope, as the authors note that "the window of opportunity to act is not closed."
The IPCC AR6 final synthesis report, a summary of a series of assessments written over the last eight years, covers the underlying science of the climate system, the impacts of climate breakdown, and ways of tackling the problem. Discussing the report, Hoesung Lee, chair of the IPCC, asserts that avoiding the worst ravages of climate breakdown is still possible, with "multiple, feasible and effective options" available. He emphasizes humanity's opportunity to build a more prosperous, inclusive, and equitable society in the process of tackling climate change.
Fast and immediate action is required to have a chance of meeting the Paris Agreement goal. However, the narrative to spur that action is lacking, individuals, organizations, and governments need to act now and act in concert. The current approach is not galvanizing that action, a more positive narrative is required. A positive vision of a green, sustainable future that can inspire collective action and build political support for ambitious climate policies. A more optimistic cliamte action narrative should be developed to counter the doom and gloom. By focusing on the benefits of climate action, such as job creation, improved public health, and a cleaner environment, individuals and communities can be encouraged to take action.
The IPCC report also highlights the need for climate justice to feature in how the world moves forward, as the people being hit hardest by the impacts of the crisis are the poorest and most vulnerable who have done the least to cause the problem. Aditi Mukherji, one of the 93 authors of the synthesis report, said: “Almost half the world’s population lives in regions that are highly vulnerable to climate change. In the last decade, deaths from floods, droughts, and storms were 15 times higher in highly vulnerable regions.” Bringing justice to these communities and providing the means for them to develop in a clean and safe environment is key.
The United Nation's top climate official, Simon Stiell, emphasizes that global emissions need to be reduced by nearly 43 percent by 2030 to achieve the Paris agreement's goal. The IPCC offers many feasible, effective, and low-cost mitigation and adaptation options to scale up across sectors and countries. There is indeed some hope, falling renewable energy costs are starting to transform the power sector, for example.
The world is making progress, albeit slowly, in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to an article written last year in PNAS, the multidisciplinary scientific journal. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the article suggests that accelerating decarbonization efforts, promoting renewable energy, and continued investment in climate adaptation measures can help to mitigate the worst effects of climate change.
One of the most promising developments is the growth of the decentralized renewable energy (DRE) sector, according to an article in The Conversation. The DRE sector, which includes small solar appliances, stand-alone and mini-grid systems, has played a critical role in providing energy access to over 150 million people in developing countries since 2000. The sector has also created close to half a million jobs globally, according to the article.
However, the DRE sector faces significant challenges, particularly related to the skills shortage. Power for All’s Powering Jobs Census 2022: The Energy Access Workforce has cited the shortage of skilled workers as a major growth inhibitor in the sector, hampering efforts to achieve energy access for all. Efforts to reskill and upskill workers are needed to address the current and future skills gap in the sector.
Additionally, investing in the DRE sector can accelerate socio-economic development in developing countries and improve the lives of millions of people worldwide. The growth of the sector provides hope for a greener future and demonstrates the potential for renewable energy to mitigate the worst effects of climate change. By adopting a positive approach to climate change, promoting climate justice, investing in renewable energy, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, we can create a better future for our planet. UN secretary-general, António Guterres, calls for developed countries to phase out coal by 2030 and all others by 2040. He also calls for no new licensing or funding of oil and gas projects, based on the findings of the International Energy Agency that all new oil and gas development must cease for the world to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
In conclusion, the IPCC AR6 report serves as both a stark warning and a source of hope in the battle against climate change. By adopting a positive approach to climate action, promoting climate justice, and investing in renewable energy and greenhouse gas emission reductions, the global community can come together to create a more sustainable and equitable future. The report emphasizes that it is not too late to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, but decisive and immediate action is required from governments, businesses, and individuals alike. As we move forward, it is crucial to harness the power of optimism and resilience, using the available knowledge and technology to address the most pressing challenge of our time – climate change.