Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, limiting global warming to 1.5°C is beyond reach.

Limiting global warming will require major transitions in the energy sector. This will involve a substantial reduction in fossil fuel use, widespread electrification, improved energy efficiency, and use of alternative fuels (such as hydrogen).

Having the right policies, infrastructure and technology in place to enable changes to our lifestyles and behaviour can result in a 40 -70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

Cities and other urban areas also offer significant opportunities for emissions reductions. These can be achieved through lower energy consumption (such as by creating compact, walkable cities), electrification of transport in combination with low-emission energy sources, and enhanced carbon uptake and storage using nature.

Reducing emissions in industry will involve using materials more efficiently, reusing and recycling products and minimizing waste. For basic materials, including steel, building materials and chemicals, low- to zero-green house gas production processes are at their pilot to near-commercial stage. This sector accounts for about a quarter of global emissions. Achieving net zero will be challenging and will require new production processes, low and zero emissions electricity, hydrogen, and, where necessary, carbon capture and storage.

Agriculture, forestry, and other land use can provide large-scale emissions reductions and also remove and store carbon dioxide at scale. However, land cannot compensate for delayed emissions reductions in other sectors. Response options can benefit biodiversity, help us adapt to climate change, and secure livelihoods, food and water, and wood supplies.

The next few years are critical

Limiting warming to around 1.5°C requires global greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025 at the latest, and be reduced by 43% by 2030; at the same time, methane would also need to be reduced by about a third. Even if we do this, it is almost inevitable that we will temporarily exceed this temperature threshold but could return to below it by the end of the century.

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.

The global temperature will stabilize when carbon dioxide emissions reach net zero. For 1.5°C , this means achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions globally in the early 2050s; for 2°C  it is in the early 2070s.

Limiting warming to around 2°C still requires global greenhouse gas emissions to peak before 2025 at the latest, and be reduced by a quarter by 2030.

While financial flows are a factor of three to six times lower than levels needed by 2030 to limit warming to below 2°C , there is sufficient global capital and liquidity to close investment gaps. However, it relies on clear signaling from governments and the international community, including a stronger alignment of public sector finance and policy. Without taking into account the economic benefits of reduced adaptation costs or avoided climate impacts, global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) would be just a few percentage points lower in 2050 if we take the actions necessary 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 response options can absorb and store carbon and, at the same time, help communities limit the impacts associated with climate change. For example, in cities, networks of parks and open spaces, wetlands and urban agriculture can reduce flood risk and reduce heat-island effects.

Mitigation in industry can reduce environmental impacts and increase employment and business opportunities. Electrification with renewables and shifts in public transport can enhance health, employment, and equity.

European Union

To help fight climate change, the EU has set ambitious targets to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The EU wants to reach climate neutrality  by 2050 and this target, along with an interim target of 55% emission reduction by 2030, are set in the European Climate Law. The EU has launched various initiatives to reach these targets. One of them is the Effort Sharing Regulation, which is being updated as part of the Fit for 55 legislative package.

The Effort Sharing Regulation sets binding targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions for each EU country in sectors not covered by the Emossions Trading Scheme , such as transport, agriculture, buildings and waste management. These sectors account for the majority of the EU’s greenhouse gases (about 60% of total EU emissions).

To guarantee that all countries participate in the EU's efforts to reduce emissions coming from the above-mentioned sectors, the Effort Sharing Regulation establishes binding annual greenhouse gas emission targets for EU countries for the period 2021–2030 as well as sets the rules for determining the annual emissions allocations and how to evaluate progress.

The current reduction target for the sectors covered by the Effort Sharing Regulation is 29% by 2030. As part of the raised ambitions under the European Green Deal, this target should be revised up. On 17 May, Parliament’s environment committee voted in favour of plans to increase the target to 40% by 2030.

A strategy to cut emissions will be drawn up for each EU country to make sure they decrease emissions at a constant pace throughout the period.

However, some flexibility is possible in the current system. For example, EU countries are able to bank, borrow and transfer annual emission allocations between each other from one year to another. The European Commission has proposed to set up an additional reserve that would include surplus removals of CO2 by EU countries in excess of their targets under the land use and forestry sector regulation. Member states struggling to reach their national emission reduction targets would be able to draw on this reserve, provided some conditions are met. This could be, for example, if the EU as a whole had reached its 2030 climate target.


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