The longer we drag our feet to act on carbon emissions, the more difficult it will become to solve the problem of rising temperatures, says a draft report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The report, which leaked last week, says that a further 15-year delay in reducing emissions will make finding a solution virtually impossible with current technology.
From The New York Times:
A delay would most likely force future generations to develop the ability to suck greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere and store them underground to preserve the livability of the planet, the report found. But it is not clear whether such technologies will ever exist at the necessary scale, and even if they do, the approach would probably be wildly expensive compared with taking steps now to slow emissions.
"It's really about cars and coal," said Marilyn Brown, one of the review editors of the report. "We need to reduce our reliance on coal power and find a way to transport ourselves and all of the goods we consume more economically, more efficiently."
Renewable energy expansion in the developed world may give the appearance of progress, the report mentions, but such headway is being eclipsed by rocketing fossil fuel emissions from countries like China and India. And clean energy technologies need government support to increase market share.
World leaders meet this week in Davos, Switzerland for the annual World Economic Forum meeting, where they will discuss the top ten risks facing the world. Freak weather events and the failure of countries to cut emissions and prepare for the worst impacts of climate change are among them.
The leaked UN report is not final but rather a draft dated December 17. The wording may change between now and when the final report is released from Yokohama, Japan in late March.
Regardless, the message is likely to remain the same: Act now, or it might be too late to act at all.
Photo: A laborer searches for usable coal at a cinder dump site on the outskirts of Changzhi, Shanxi province in China. (Reuters)