Source: IPCC, special report, October 2018
scenario of +1.5°C compared to the pre-industrial
era, between 2030 and 2052 Source: IPCC, 5th
report, 2015 = scenarios of +2°C, +4°C and +5.5°C
compared to the pre-industrial era, looking to 2100
The 4 forecasts for the planet
While the United Nations 24th Climate Change Conference (COP24) concluded on December 16, 2018 with an agreement on a technical guide – the Paris Rulebook – essential for implementing 2015’s agreement, the 195 signatory States (plus the European Union) have not met their greenhouse gas reduction targets. Yes, the international community has definitively adopted the 1.5°C goal and now has a method for measuring, checking and reporting on the progress made by GHG reduction policies. However, the commitments made by the States to date would lead to warming of 3.3°C in 2100. This reflects a real lack of political will to promote both emissions mitigation and adaptation in countries affected by global warming.
HALF A DEGREE MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE!
Rising sea levels, the frequency and intensity of heat waves, the violence of deadly hurricanes, floods and scorching heat… All around the world, the number of extreme events due to climate change is increasing. The impacts are already visible at 1°C warming, the average threshold reached worldwide in 2017 compared to the pre-industrial era. These climate events affect the lives of billions of people, especially the most vulnerable. In the fight against climate change, every tenth of a degree counts. At 1.5°C warming, the consequences on populations and ecosystems worsen. At 2°C, the impacts would be dramatic on our ability to feed ourselves and on our health, and could even become irreversible.
Beyond 3°C, the situation would become critical: mass extinction of animal and plant species, heightened food insecurity and massive population movements.
MITIGATION AND ADAPTATION MEASURES
The IPCC’s October 2018 report highlights: stabilizing global warming at 1.5°C – one of the goals of the Paris agreement – remains possible but requires profound and rapid changes in our societies. The latter therefore have ten years to reduce their human-induced carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by about 45% compared to 2010 levels! And they must achieve zero net emissions by 2050.
It is therefore time to accelerate the pace of implementation regarding two key measures: mitigation and adaptation. The first makes it possible to stabilize or even reduce GHG concentrations in the atmosphere through anthropogenic intervention. The solutions developed include CO2 capture and storage, methanization, and energy efficiency. The second targets the ability of a natural or human system to adjust to climate change, in order to control any consequences thereof or deal with the repercussions of negative impacts that cannot be avoided. It may involve restoring ecosystems, managing biodiversity, sustainably managing water, etc.
TIME FOR ACTION
The Climate Summit organized by the UN in New York on September 23, 2019 will be crucial in raising States’ ambitions. Likewise, COP25 in Chile in December must ratify these new commitments, settle the question of the global carbon market, and begin implementing the greenhouse gas global stocktake for 2023. Many industrial companies such as Veolia, major cities and organizations are unhesitatingly striving day after day to maintain the ambitious climate targets. In its activities, Veolia is working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and invent solutions to avoid them (cf. the topics addressed in this issue). Mitigation solutions based on the circular economy: waste recycling and recovery, renewable energy production, energy efficiency, and district heating. Adaptation and resilience solutions: water recycling in areas under water stress, sanitation control during rainy weather, etc.