Earlier this month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change. As all IPCC reports are, it’s a serious piece of work and not easily summarized at blog length. Nonetheless, here are some of what seemed to me to be important takeaways:
- Firstly, and most importantly, we’re not doing a very good job at mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. I suspect that, if one asked the average American whether GHG emissions increased or decreased from 2010 to 2019, they would say that emissions decreased. Sadly, that’s not the case. GHG emissions in 2019 were 12% higher in 2019 than 2010. The best we can say is that the rate of increase has slowed. (In case you didn’t know, that’s not good enough!)
- It is still possible to meet the Paris target of no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius increase in global temperature, but the level of commitment that will be required to meet that target will be, as they say, ginormous.
- We’re almost certainly going to have to spend money pulling carbon from the atmosphere. I’ve always been skeptical of carbon removal technologies, other than land management, but going there is probably unavoidable at this point.
- For the first time, the IPCC discusses climate litigation as a mitigation tool. My friend @MichaelGerrard describes this as the IPCC “saying that we need to deploy all the tools in the toolbox, and litigation has definitely become one of them.” That may be, but I worry that IPCC discussion of litigation will just be used by opponents to delegitimize the IPCC. I think it might be better for the IPCC to stick to the science and technology of mitigation.
Any way you look at it, the IPCC report makes sobering reading. The task will be Herculean and time is growing short.