Now or never: emissions need to peak by 2025 says IPCC

Article by Amanda Doyle

Calls for major reduction in fossil fuels, and rapid scaleup of tech

IN its latest report, the IPCC has warned that emissions must peak by 2025 and halve by 2030 if the world is to keep to the 1.5°C target.

The report, Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change, calls for major reductions in fossil fuel use alongside rapid scaling up of mitigation technologies such as carbon capture and storage. It also warns that there is little time left to enact those measures.

Very narrow window for action

The report says that to keep to the 1.5°C target, global greenhouse gas emissions will need to peak by 2025, CO2 emissions need to fall by 48% by 2030 compared to 2019 levels, and methane emissions need to fall by 34%.

The IPCC admits that even if this trajectory is taken, it is “almost inevitable” that there will be a small amount of overshoot, where the average global surface temperature goes above 1.5°C from pre-industrial levels, before dropping back down again. Current climate pledges made at COP26 last year put the world on track for 2.8°C of warming.

Halving emissions by 2030 is still possible if action is taken immediately. This would require more upfront investment and a faster pace of change than delaying action, but would ultimately have greater economic and health benefits.

Jim Skea, IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair, said: “It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C . Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible.”

Targets can’t be met without CCS

Carbon capture will be critical to keeping to the 1.5°C target, the IPCC said, and it called for a major scaling up of CCS technologies. Without CCS, fossil fuel use needs to drop by 100% for coal, 60% for oil, and 70% for gas by 2050 compared to 2019 levels. If CCS is used, this becomes 95% for coal, 60% for oil, and 45% for gas. It cautioned that CCS generally can’t capture all post-combustion CO2 so the remainder would need to be offset elsewhere.

If an overshoot occurs on the 1.5°C target, carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies – including options such as reforestation – would need to draw down almost a decade of CO2 emissions to bring warming down.

This article is adapted from an earlier online version.

Article by Amanda Doyle

Staff Reporter, The Chemical Engineer

Recent Editions

Catch up on the latest news, views and jobs from The Chemical Engineer. Below are the four latest issues. View a wider selection of the archive from within the Magazine section of this site.