IPCC Climate Change report urges the phasing out of fossil fuels to keep global warming below 1.5ºC

The Paris Agreement signifies all but one nation's commitment to limiting global warming to 1.5ºC. This week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a landmark report outlining the urgent changes that are required to reach such targets, and the global consequences of falling short.

Whilst it is likely that human activities have already caused approximately 1ºC of warming globally (with respect to pre-industrial levels), the report warns that this is likely to reach 1.5ºC between 2030 and 2052 if warming increases at the current rate. Such climatic changes pose risks for natural and human systems alike, but they are significantly less for 1.5ºC than 2ºC. For example, under a 1.5ºC scenario there is likely to be one sea-ice free summer in the Arctic every 100 years; for 2ºC this increases to every 10 years. The sooner emissions peak before 2030 and the lower at which they do so, the easier the 1.5ºC will be to meet. Thus, it is pressing that everyone, countries, cities, the private sector and individuals, strengthen their contributions without delay.

Rapid shifts in technology and policy have been witnessed before, for example in the phasing out of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) in the 1970s to limit ozone depletion, yet the scale of change required to limit warming to 1.5ºC is unprecedented. In other words, urgent and widespread action is required across energy, land and industrial sectors spanning geographies and technologies.

Modelled pathways from the report outline key energy system changes required to meet emission targets. The energy sector is a large contributor of global emissions, so addressing this area is vital to limiting climatic changes. Energy consumption must reduce, with enhanced energy efficiency and increased electrification, and the widespread uptake of renewable energy. In fact, for a 1.5ºC scenario, renewables are expected to supply 70%-85% of electricity in 2050. Such changes will require an upscaling in annual investment in energy efficiency and low carbon technologies by roughly a factor of five by 2050 (compared to 2015).

There is no denying that the IPCC's latest report makes for a sobering and difficult read. Limiting warming to 1.5º will be hard and the implications of missing these targets catastrophic. Yet, the report makes it clear that humanity has the technological capability, scientific understanding and financial means to tackle climate change if the will is there. In short, a concerted effort and urgent changes are required not only at a global and political level, but also at a local one.

This is where Cornwall New Energy comes in; providing small and medium sized businesses in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly with the advice and knowledge to reduce their carbon footprint through decarbonisation of their energy systems. Such local changes are vital to reach the global emission targets and set precedence.

To find out how CNE can help your business reduce emissions and move away from reliance on fossil fuels please contact Amanda Forman on 07471953998 or email a.forman@prp-co.uk.

To read the full IPCC's "Global Warming of 1.5ºC" visit: http://www.ipcc.ch/report/sr15/