Halve Global Emissions by 2030? Experts Say There are Dozens of Ways to Do It
Environmental experts believe we can still halt a mass environmental catastrophe – if we act fast. Read about the main ways experts say the world can curb emissions.
As the climate crises continues to flood the media, rise water levels, melt ice, and ignite fires, there is debate on what can be done and if there is still time. While some people believe we are approaching an inevitable doom, other scientists say there is still hope – if we do it right.
Those advocating optimism can find dozens of ways to curb greenhouse emissions by 2030 in a recent study called the Exponential Climate Action Roadmap. On September 19, the group published two reports covering how to accelerate the 36 solutions required to cut emissions in half in the next 10 years. But like others, the report says it is a call for action now, not later.
The study was compiled by 55 experts across science, academia, policy and consultancy, and it aims to serve as a plan of action to keep the world within 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), consistent with the target set in the Paris climate change agreement. Without this, the possibility of the world tipping into unstoppable and catastrophic climate change becomes very likely.
The suggestions and strategies the survey suggests are not new; in fact, they are already happening. Experts say it is a matter of pace and urgency that will make the difference.
“While solutions exist,” the report says, “the scale of transformation requires system-wide action accelerated by climate leadership, much stronger policy, finance and exponential technologies.”
Here are the report’s key suggestions:
Renewable Energy Like Solar and Wind Are Worth It – and Cheaper
Renewable energy sources like wind and solar are becoming much more affordable and accessible compared to fossil fuels. However, investment continues to pour into fossil fuels – about $5.2 trillion in subsidies to the industry each year. Last year, however, renewables accounted for nearly 75 percent of all electricity installations, according to the report.
Allowing renewables to continue to grow and expand is essential. Not only will the prices for these energies continue to go down, but drastic adjustments in energy sources would make a huge dent in global emissions. With the right policies and pricing, cities could see as much as 70 percent of their electricity coming from renewable sources by 2030.
The report does not disregard those working in the fossil fuel industry, like coal miners. It calls for policies supporting those who may lose out on the transition so they are not left behind socially or economically.
Embrace Electric Cars
As with any source of energy or technology, there are downsides. While electric cars are not perfect, they are a worthwhile and easily accessible alternative to fuel burning cars.
Electric cars are also not new – as the technology continues to improve, we now have the technology and capability to reduce transportation emissions to zero, according to the report. A rapid growth in electric cars would allow for almost 90 percent of cars to be electric by 2030.
Cities are taking this initiative seriously, too. Seattle is planning a ban on new fossil fuel-powered cars by 2030. In Europe, over two dozen cities (including Paris and London) are setting bans on fossil fuel-powered cars within the next decade. Automakers like Volkswagen and Volvo have made industry commitments to produce only electric or hybrid vehicles.
Basically, mass transit is a huge factor to global emissions. Change in this sector is imperative, says the report.
Cut Down on Meat
People are not saying stop eating meat altogether. However, there are significant benefits to just lessening meat consumption in your diet. Discussions about the food system are not new either, and unsustainable farming practices that cause deforestation, pollution, and biodiversity loss are all factors. While there is enough food to feed the global population, the distribution of these foods is broken. Not to mention the global demand for meat is skyrocketing.
Many people might not realize it, but food and agriculture play a massive role in climate change and emissions. There are many studies that explore the effect of particularly the meat industry, its greenhouse gas emissions, its water demand, and its effect on deforestation and land-clearing.
“Food and agriculture is the dark horse in the fight against climate change. It may be the hardest sector to rapidly halve emissions,” said Brent Loken from the EAT Foundation, who wrote the report’s chapter on food.
While there are many aspects that determine a country’s diet tendencies and demands, the report explains that richer countries have the economic means and ability to adopt more plant-based diets compared to third world countries. Reducing meat intake where possible and encouraging a plant-based diet has benefits on a person’s health as well as the climate’s.
Restore and Protect Natural Environments
Natural ecosystems are a large part of the Earth’s chemical and environmental balances. Natural systems, from forests to peatlands, store huge amounts of carbon. Many of these ecosystems are being destroyed, however, for agriculture and industry. The report suggests nature-based solutions and policies that halt deforestation and reforesting, reducing fertilizers, and better managing farmland. With these solutions, an estimated 9.1 billion tons of CO2 could be restored each year.
Make Industry Less Dirty
While laws are rules no one really likes, stronger emission standards are essential to making climate-intensive action. Changes in standards for industries with large environmental footprints like steel, cement, and plastic are key, says the report.
The report also advocates a circular economy model that keeps resources in the economy for as long as possible using reuse, repurposing, and recycling. Sending these resources to the landfill after use is wasteful and, most likely, not necessary.
Give Power to the People
No major change in policy, government, or human life comes without a voice of passion. Social movements are a key part of change, especially for the climate crisis. Activists like Greta Thunberg are among many activists, scientists, academics, and others who are speaking up about global inaction.
The coming years hold opportunity and potential for change and reform, but they also could be critical in shaping social and environmental disaster. Read more about a summary of the report form Huffpost’s article.