New UN report: Renewables key to securing energy, economy

The United Nations’ newest climate change mitigation report released yesterday confirmed that, now more than ever, immediate and deep cuts in emissions combined with systemic, transformative actions across all sectors are key towards achieving an inclusive, resilient, and sustainable economic recovery.

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) examined current emission trends across the energy, transport, agriculture, buildings, and industry sectors in its mitigation report, which is the contribution of the Working Group III (WGIII) to the panel’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6). The report also looked at projected levels of future warming based on the policy commitments of governments, and the urgent action needed to transition to a low carbon economy in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2100 in line with the Paris Agreement.

The report comes as the Philippines and other countries continue to suffer energy and food price shocks brought about by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Heavily affected by massive increases in fuel costs, the Philippines is also threatened by rotating blackouts and even higher electricity bills due to the projected shutdowns of baseload power plants.

Among the highlights of the IPCC mitigation report are:

Global greenhouse gas emissions must peak before 2025 and be reduced by 43 percent by 2030, in order to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (°C) and avoid the worst projected climate impacts, as detailed in the previous IPCC adaptation report.

There are options available now in every sector that can at least halve emissions by 2030—not only in energy, but also transport, land use (including agriculture and forestry), industry, cities, buildings, and demand and services.

While current financial flows are three to six times lower than levels needed by 2030 to limit warming to below 1.5°C or 2°C, there is sufficient global capital and liquidity to close investment gaps. Without taking into account the economic benefits of reduced adaptation costs or avoided climate impacts, global gross domestic product would be just a few percentage points lower in 2050 if the world takes the necessary actions to limit warming to 2°C or below, compared to maintaining current policies.

Accelerated and equitable climate action in mitigating and adapting to climate change impacts is critical to sustainable development. Some climate solutions can absorb and store carbon and, at the same time, help communities limit the impacts associated with climate change.

Reacting to the latest IPCC mitigation report, Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) associate for policy advocacy Denise Fontanilla said:

“The latest installment of the IPCC report reinforces the challenge to the next administration to reframe climate resilience as economic resilience. To act on the climate crisis is also to act on food, water, and energy security.

“For too long, governments including ours have equated climate change impacts with mere disaster response strategies or reducing carbon footprints. This new report confirms what our own experts have been calling for. Adaptation must remain the country’s climate response anchor, because the pursuit of resilience objectives will establish if not accelerate the country’s decarbonization agenda. Addressing the demand for reliable, secure and affordable power, or efficient and safe urban mobility, or coastal risk reduction and food security will do far more for global efforts than diffuse measures to reduce emissions. In fact, the demand for reliable, secure and affordable power remains largely unmet and realizing this aim offers far more synergies than trade-offs as we pursue economic growth and decarbonization.

“Shifting to renewables, investing in battery and storage, improving mobility, restoring our ecosystems —while all these contribute to decarbonization and the Paris Agreement goals, these same actions will likewise help stabilize food and energy prices, and improve access to energy and mobility while decreasing pollution.

“In the international arena, the country’s next leaders must continue to demand developed nations to make deep and immediate cuts in their emissions reductions, if the world is to have a fighting chance to survive and thrive in the face of worsening climate impacts, as detailed in the last IPCC adaptation report. The Global North must also scale up its commitments to deploy finance and technology to the Global South in order to protect and empower women, children, and other vulnerable communities at the frontlines of climate change.”

The Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities is a Manila-based climate and energy policy group advancing climate resilience and low carbon development.

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