IPCC Report: We Must Phase Out Fossil Fuels by 2100

On 2nd November 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—the world body for assessing the science related to climate change—released the final component of its Fifth Assessment Report, the Systhesis Report in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The Synthesis Report, produced by over 800 scientists, is without doubt the most comprehensive assessment of climate change undertaken till date. The report explains how “options are available to adapt to climate change and implementing stringent mitigations activities can ensure that the impacts of climate change remain within a manageable range, creating a brighter and more sustainable future.”

IPCC concludes that:

  • Impacts of climate change are felt on all continents. Climate risks are a particular challenge for the least developed countries.
  • Emissions of greenhouse gases and other anthropogenic drivers are the dominant reason for observed warming since the mid-20th century. Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause more warming and long-lasting changes to the climate, “increasing the likelihood of widespread and profound impacts affecting all levels of society and the natural world.”
  • Reducing emissions is crucial if global warming is to be limited to 2C – a target acknowledged in 2009 as the threshold of dangerous climate change.
  • Renewables will have to grow from their current 30 percent share to 80 percent of the power sector by 2050.
  • Fossil fuel power generation without carbon capture and storage technology would need to be “phased out almost entirely by 2100.”

IPPC further warns that warming impacts are already being seen around the globe, in the acidification of the oceans, the melting of arctic ice and poorer crop yields in many parts.

“Science has spoken,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. “There is no ambiguity in their message. Leaders must act. Time is not on our side … There is a myth that climate action will cost heavily, but inaction will cost much more.”