Time is running out for world powers to cut greenhouse gas emissions and prevent runaway global warming, while the need for a rapid transition to a low-carbon economy grows ever more urgent, a draft UN document has warned.
Climate scientists and government officials are meeting in Berlin on Monday to finalise the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Working Group III report.
Following on from the second study – last month’s stark description of the devastating likely impacts of global warming – the third report will assess the options for mitigating climate change.
According to a draft seen by Reuters, the report will warn nations that they must drastically cut their greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming to less than 2C from pre-industrial times – the level above which scientists fear many climate “tipping points” will be passed.
“The window is shutting very rapidly on the 2 degrees target”, Johan Rockstrom, head of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, told the news agency.
Rockstrom, who has not worked on the draft, added, “The debate is drifting to ‘maybe we can adapt to 2 degrees, maybe 3 or even 4’.”
To avoid such a scenario, the report says spending on renewables must increase by $147 billion (£88 billion) each year. Meanwhile, investments in fossil fuels such as oil and coal would have to drop by $30 billion (£18 billion) a year.
Scientists predict that renewable energy’s share of global energy production will have to rise from 17% in 2010 to about 50% in 2050.
The draft report warns that such a transition will have its costs – as it is likely to reduce economic output by between 2-6% by 2050 – but argue that it is a necessity.
The discussions in Berlin will last four days, before policymakers from around the world are briefed on Sunday ahead of the report’s publication next week.