Key findings – including the increase in extreme weather events, unprecedented sea-level rise, an average temperature increase of 1.5 degrees possible by the early 2030s – show efforts to avoid every additional increment of warming is worthwhile in the race to decarbonisation.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an intergovernmental body of the United Nations, yesterday released its sixth assessment report on the state of the planet. It confirms with even more certainty how quickly and profoundly human-induced climate change is affecting our planet. It shows that now more than ever, there is an overwhelming need to rapidly reduce emissions beyond current commitments. It also emphasises that action matters – the world will feel repercussions within two decades.
So how can we contribute to ‘human-induced’ solutions? Climateworks supports the transition to a prosperous, net zero emissions future for Australia, Southeast Asia and the Pacific. We have our sights set not on limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius or below, but firmly on 1.5 degrees Celsius.
The IPCC report highlights how every bit of warming that the world is able to avoid would make a significant difference to the frequency of extreme weather events, the level of global sea rise and the likelihood of an Arctic Ocean free of ice. It shows if the world can reach net zero emissions by 2050, warming could peak at 1.5 degrees, and even drop thereafter. But this window is narrowing.
Modelling completed last year by Climateworks for our Decarbonisation Futures report indicates a scenario to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius for Australia is possible with an ‘all-in’ approach.
This scenario includes a high-level (or complete) transition away from fossil fuels, coupled with strong action from government, policy makers, business and individuals; as well as high investment in, and uptake of, technological solutions. Our research shows that many solutions with potential for high impact are already mature, or at least demonstrated. Deployment of these solutions needs to accelerate, at the same time as investment increases for research and development of emerging technologies.
If this seems like a long shot, it’s worth noting that in over ten years of modelling at Climateworks, most key technologies have consistently outperformed expectations.
Technology alone can’t get us there, but if combined with strong policy action, support from business and behaviour shifts from individuals (such as exerting pressure through consumer choices) – 1.5 degrees is still on the table.
The IPCC report will be amplifying pressure for stronger commitment at COP26 later this year – that means stronger targets for 2030. What does a 1.5 degree scenario indicate for a 2030 target for Australia? Our modelling shows that a 74 per cent decrease in net emissions from the 2005 baseline, by 2030, would have Australia on track for net zero by 2035.