According to the IPCC’s 1.5C report from November 2018 (emphasis added):
“In model pathways with no or limited overshoot of 1.5°C, global net anthropogenic CO2 emissions decline by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching net zero around 2050.”
“Climate-related risks for natural and human systems are higher for global warming of 1.5°C than at present, but lower than at 2°C. These risks depend on the magnitude and rate of warming, geographic location, levels of development and vulnerability, and on the choices and implementation of adaptation and mitigation options.”
We have to reduce emissions by 45% by 2030, and the choices we make now will determine our fate. There is hope, and this is exciting. It opens up a whole new world of opportunity. Electrifying our economy, or switching everything we can that uses fossil fuels to electric, then powering that with renewable energy actually decreases total energy used and emissions.
Scientists have determined over many studies over as many years that human greenhouse gas emissions from burning fossil fuels have to not just be reduced, but virtually eliminated in our lifetime. This is in order to avoid temperature increases that cause potentially catastrophic changes to Earth’s climate that has been at relatively stable temperatures for the past 10,000 years, when humans have thrived. As the old saying goes: if you haven’t got your health, you haven’t got anything. Scientists tell us that we must reduce emissions by 45% by 2030 and net-zero by 2050 in order to avoid the biggest risks. Here is what that looks like:
Source: Carbon Brief
We also know that most of the harmful emissions come from human activities, mostly the burning of fossil fuels for energy.
“Globally, the primary sources of greenhouse gas emissions are electricity and heat (31%), agriculture (11%), transportation (15%), forestry (6%) and manufacturing (12%). Energy production of all types accounts for 72 percent of all emissions.” —C2es
Clean renewable energy means more and better jobs, lower electricity costs, a growing economy, cleaner air and water, and lower greenhouse gas emissions. What do we mean by “clean energy?”
We can electrify almost everything we do, from heating and cooling our houses to transportation. Through efficiency improvements that result in less energy use, as well as reducing wasted energy from using fossil fuels, we use less energy overall. When we generate all our electrical energy from clean renewable sources such as sun, wind and solar, we reduce emissions and pollution even when we’re using more electricity overall. We optimize our energy use, and switch to renewables. That’s the future.
It’s totally possible, and it’s already happening.
- Over 100 cities across the globe are already getting more than 70% of their electricity from renewable energy.
- Three US states and the District of Columbia have already enacted legislation for 100% clean or renewable energy (clean includes nuclear). At least another 8 states have pending legislation, including Illinois.
- 260 corporations across the globe have committed to achieve 100% renewable energy in their operations by 2050.