IPCC published its sixth Working Group III assessment report on 4 April. The report summarises the latest information on climate change mitigation and assesses methods for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

Based on the scenarios in the report, limiting warming to about 1.5°C requires global greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025 and be reduced by 43% by 2030 from 2019 levels. Even if we achieve this, it is almost inevitable that we will temporarily exceed this temperature threshold but could return below it by the end of the century.

To limit warming to 1.5°C or below 2°C, immediate, comprehensive and sustained greenhouse gas emissions reductions are needed in all sectors of the economy. Current financial flows for climate action are three to six times less than required by 2030 to limit warming to below 2°C, and even less for 1.5°C. Decreasing fossil subsidies will play an important role in attracting investment for climate solutions. Closing the investment gap is the main challenge for this decade, and CLC has addressed this since its founding.

In positive news, the report describes in detail how several low-carbon technologies have seen a remarkable decrease in unit cost since 2010 and are now cost competitive with traditional technologies. For example, the costs of solar and wind power fell by 85% and 55% respectively between 2010 and 2019, meaning that they are now cheaper than fossil fuel-based electricity generation in many places. This is significant at a time when investment needs to be ramped up.

In addition, the report illustrates the key role of carbon sinks. We know now that we will overshoot the 1.5°C target and will need to bring temperatures back down. This means that large-scale removal of carbon from the atmosphere and long-term storage will be needed. The methods for achieving this include natural means such as ending deforestation and increasing afforestation and technical means such as carbon capture from energy or industrial facilities, or directly from the atmosphere, followed by long-term storage in underground geological formations or products.

A new element is also introduced by the report, specifically addressing the role of cities, citizens and carbon-cutting on the demand side. According to the report, scaled behavioural and cultural changes can reduce emissions by 40 to 70% compared with recent trends. Beef consumption, air travel and energy use in buildings are all areas in which the combined decisions of large groups of people can have a substantial impact.

CLC welcomes the report as it clarifies many vital issues. CLC has concluded that a wide carbon budget-based ETS and effective carbon pricing are the most important policies with regard to ramping up investment in emissions reductions and carbon sinks. In addition, we need a holistic strategy for land use and bioeconomy, as well as carbon footprint data that enables business and citizens to make climate-friendly choices.

We are only one investment cycle away from 2050, and this is likely to be the last chance to get policies right. We urge governments to act on this during 2022.

More information: Tuuli Kaskinen, CEO, Climate Leadership Coalition, tuuli.kaskinen@clc.fi, +358 50 5149752, Jouni Keronen, Co-Chair, Climate Leadership Coalition Advisory Board, jouni.keronen@clc.fi, +358 50 4534881 and Juha Turkki, Development Director, Climate Leadership Coalition, juha.turkki@clc.fi, +358 45 3461925