GENEVA, Apr 4 – In 2010-2019 average annual global greenhouse gas emissions were at their
highest levels in human history, but the rate of growth has slowed. Without immediate and deep
emissions reductions across all sectors, limiting global warming to 1.5°C is beyond reach. However,
there is increasing evidence of climate action, said scientists in the latest Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change (IPCC) report released today.
Since 2010, there have been sustained decreases of up to 85% in the costs of solar and wind
energy, and batteries. An increasing range of policies and laws have enhanced energy efficiency,
reduced rates of deforestation and accelerated the deployment of renewable energy.
“We are at a crossroads. The decisions we make now can secure a liveable future. We have the
tools and know-how required to limit warming,” said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee. “I am encouraged by
climate action being taken in many countries. There are policies, regulations and market
instruments that are proving effective. If these are scaled up and applied more widely and
equitably, they can support deep emissions reductions and stimulate innovation.”
The Summary for Policymakers of the IPCC Working Group III report, Climate Change 2022:
Mitigation of climate change was approved on April 4 2022, by 195 member governments of the
IPCC, through a virtual approval session that started on March 21. It is the third instalment of the
IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), which will be completed this year.
We have options in all sectors to at least halve emissions by 2030
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. This offers
significant untapped potential,” said IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair Priyadarshi Shukla. “The
evidence also shows that these lifestyle changes can improve our health and wellbeing.”
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. There are options for established, rapidly growing and new cities.
“We see examples of zero energy or zero-carbon buildings in almost all climates,” said IPCC
Working Group III Co-Chair Jim Skea. “Action in this decade is critical to capture the mitigation
potential of buildings.”
Reducing emissions in industry will involve using materials more efficiently, reusing and recycling
products and minimising waste. For basic materials, including steel, building materials and
chemicals, low- to zero-greenhouse gas production processes are at their pilot to near-commercial
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
In the scenarios we assessed, limiting warming to around 1.5°C (2.7°F) 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
“It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F),” said Skea. “Without
immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible.”
The global temperature will stabilise when carbon dioxide emissions reach net zero. For 1.5°C
(2.7°F), this means achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions globally in the early 2050s; for 2°C
(3.6°F), it is in the early 2070s.
This assessment shows that limiting warming to around 2°C (3.6°F) still requires global greenhouse
gas emissions to peak before 2025 at the latest, and be reduced by a quarter by 2030.
Closing investment gaps
The report looks beyond technologies and demonstrates that while financial flows are a factor of
three to six times lower than levels needed by 2030 to limit warming to below 2°C (3.6°F), there is
sufficient global capital and liquidity to close investment gaps. However, it relies on clear signalling
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 (3.6°F) or below, compared to maintaining
current policies,” said Shukla.
Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
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.
“Climate change is the result of more than a century of unsustainable energy and land use, lifestyles
and patterns of consumption and production,” said Skea. “This report shows how taking action now
can move us towards a fairer, more sustainable world.”