The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s latest report, Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis, finds that unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, in particular CO2 and methane, limiting global warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C within the next decades will be beyond reach. The report also notes that even if GHG emissions are cut to zero, it will take 20–30 years after this to see global temperatures stabilise.
The report states that emissions of GHGs from human activities are responsible for approximately 1.1°C of warming since 1850–1900. The message is clear – all evidence shows that human-induced climate change is inevitable and will affect weather and climate systems across the world for years to come.
‘This report is a reality check,’ says IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair Valérie Masson-Delmotte. ‘We now have a much clearer picture of the past, present and future climate, which is essential for understanding where we are headed, what can be done, and how we can prepare.’
Commenting on the publication, Colette Cohen, CEO, Net Zero Technology Centre, says: ‘The report shows the urgency of the situation and reinforces the need, on both a national and global scale to reduce emissions from human activities. Extreme climate events have undoubtedly become more frequent and intense. The stark consequences highlighted in the report of not acting, can’t be ignored. However, the challenge isn’t unsurmountable, technology will play an important role in tackling climate change and accelerating, at pace, the energy transition. We need to innovate to make our technology solutions more affordable, more efficient, have a better footprint and be more scalable. Reports such as that issued by the IPCC help create an aligned vision and galvanise industries and policy makers to collaborate to deliver solutions to decarbonise, harness new sources of energy and deliver affordable change.’
Backed by others in the energy sector, including the Energy Institute, it is hoped the report will provide new impetus to drive the transition to a low carbon energy future.
Indeed, as Kiran Sura, sustainability and climate change expert and COP26 lead at PwC, comments: ‘With less than 100 days to COP26, world leaders need to heed what the climate science is telling us – we need higher ambition and an acceleration of action to keep 1.5°C in striking distance. The window of opportunity is narrow so it’s imperative we see more decisive action from world leaders at the forthcoming UN General Assembly in September, the G20 in October and at COP26 in November. We also need to ramp up efforts to enhance adaptation and build resilience globally to manage the impacts of climate we have already locked in, especially for those countries on the frontlines of climate change who are least able to adapt. COP26 needs to deliver action on all fronts.’
As host of the COP26 meeting later this year, the UK government is keen to show a lead on climate change action. For more on ambitious plans to decarbonise industrial clusters in the UK as part of the government’s drive to reach net zero by 2050, see Petroleum Review’s forthcoming September 2021 issue. See also the August 2021 issue for comment on how the UK’s oil and gas industry is helping mitigate emissions from the North Sea.