IN A report out this week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a stark warning that the use of fossil fuels must be phased out to avoid "severe, pervasive and irreversible" damage.
The UN-backed panel released the results of its Synthesis Report, after a week of intense debate between field experts and government representatives.
The report, which put a deadline on the use of carbon intensive energy of 2100, said that low carbon alternatives could be implemented across the world, and that “we have the means to limit climate change.”
The paper, pulled together from papers and evidence from over 800 scientists went on to outline the causes and magnitude of the global impact of climate change.
The report expressed with greater certainty than in previous assessments the fact that emissions of greenhouse gases and other anthropogenic drivers have been the dominant cause of observed warming since the mid-20th century.
The more human activity disrupts the climate, the greater the risks. Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of widespread and profound impacts affecting all levels of society and the natural world, the report found.
It also outlined the challenges, many of which were noted in the latest Footprint Forum event held at The Guildhall in London where leading professionals came together to discuss the development of sustainable infrastructure.
The paper backed up the theories put forward at the talk, which said that sustainability was possible but that not enough was being done to ensure success.
“It is technically feasible to transition to a low-carbon economy,” said Youba Sokona, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III. “But what is lacking are appropriate policies and institutions. The longer we wait to take action, the more it will cost to adapt and mitigate climate change.”
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 – a proxy for economic growth – grows by 1.6 to 3% per year over the 21st century. Ambitious mitigation would reduce this by about 0.06 percentage points.
“Compared to the imminent risk of irreversible climate change impacts, the risks of mitigation are manageable” said Sokona.