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Last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest assessment report. Among the other points made, the report honed in on the fact that politics and fossil fuels are the Earth’s biggest obstacles.
Previous IPCC reports focused on the physical effects of climate change. However, this report identifies potential solutions, as it puts forward actions for climate change mitigation. In particular, the report takes a look at the possibility of hydrogen as an alternative energy source. It considers the potential role that hydrogen could play in heating, transport, heavy industry and energy storage. But the report also acknowledges the difficulty in generating hydrogen, and the fact that it is not currently cost-effective for wide-scale applications.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the main topics in the report and its conclusions.
Consistent reports and detrimental weather abnormalities have shown that the world is not becoming energy-efficient quickly enough. Throughout COP26, we also heard that the world’s wealthiest countries are responsible for creating the highest levels of emissions. The latest IPCC report says that, globally, the richest 10 percent of households are responsible for between a third to nearly half, of all greenhouse gas emissions. In contrast, the poorest 50 percent of households contribute to just 15 percent of emissions.
So, it is up to the richest countries not only to cut their emissions, but to also help poorer countries. These poorer countries make little to no levels of emissions, and yet they experience some of the worst effects of climate change.
The IPCC report also states that the prices of solar and wind energy have dropped significantly since 2010. These price drops are reflected in the current price of goods such as electric vehicle batteries. While this encourages people to invest in green energy, it may also bring some disadvantages.
Heat pumps and hydrogen are fast-becoming a popular option for heating and cooling systems in buildings and industry, but they may not be as readily harnessed in other areas. The report explains that using electricity directly for these systems has been proven to be more efficient in boilers or fuel cells. This is down to the lengthy and expensive process behind generating hydrogen. This is also true of sectors such as transport and aviation. So, hydrogen may not be such a sustainable alternative after all.
At the end of 2020, wind and solar power generated a tenth of the world’s electricity. The report explains that, on average, worldwide emissions grew much more slowly in the 2010’s than they did in the 2000’s. This is, in part due to the shift towards green energy. With an ongoing stream of legislation from governments around the world, green energy is becoming preferable (if not necessary) for most councils, businesses and individuals in the route to net zero.
While significant steps have been taken to mitigate the effects of climate change around the world, much more must be done to stop further irreversible harm. The report has looked into a number of ways that society could reduce emissions, including:
The IPCC report focused on these solutions as they do not negatively impact the economy. Improvements in areas such as public transport can also have serious short and long-term benefits on public health. Further adding to the long list of advantages to becoming sustainable.
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