A new socioeconomic study released by the United Nations Development Foundation (UNDP) Nov. 16 explores the opportunities and benefits associated with achieving the Paris Climate Change Agreement goal of capping global mean temperature rise over the 21st century to 1.5ºC (2.7ºF).
Global economic growth would be 10 percent higher – $1.2 trillion greater – by the 2040's if the 1.5ºC global temperature threshold could be held as compared to current policies, which would result in temperatures rising 3ºC or more, according to the UNDP ¨2016 Low Carbon Monitor.¨ That's a message that should resonate with political leaders, policymakers and everyday people in the U.S. and worldwide.
The ecological ripple effects associated with limiting global mean temperature rise to 1.5 as opposed to 2ºC forecast by leading climate scientists is striking, as well. Furthermore, warming air, and ocean and freshwater temperature increases are causing abrupt changes in ecosystems and shifts in species types and numbers today.
From timber to seafood, that's changing natural resource economics. A haven for marine life and reproduction, coral reefs provide an example.
A 2ºC increase would virtually wipe out coral reefs worldwide (an expected 99% loss). Reducing GHG emissions and taking other steps to limit the rise to 1.5ºC would save 10 percent or more, according to Germany-based Climate Analytics, which produced the Low Carbon Monitor in collaboration with the UN Climate Vulnerable forum.
“Carbon-intensive modes of production established in 19th Century Europe will incur enormous social and economic cost in the medium- and long-term, whereas shifting to a carbonneutral future based on green technology and low-carbon energy creates wealth, jobs, new economic opportunities, and local co-benefits in terms of health and reduced pollution...convinced that those countries which take the lead in embracing this future will be the winners of the 21st Century.”
- First Male’ Declaration of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, November 2009
Energy, industry, and transport
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in the energy, industry, and transport sectors are the three most important, and pivotal, priorities, according to the Low Carbon Monitor. Failing to realize targets in any of the three would result in a legacy of high emissions and a failure to set in motion the system changes needed to achieve the required long-term transformation, Climate Analytics highlights.
In addition to adding a projected $1.2 trillion to global GDP by the 2040's, taking actions to assure the 1.5ºC threshold is held would create 68 percent more energy-related jobs in 2030 as compared to current policies.
Furthermore, the rapid price declines in solar, wind and other renewable energy technology are driving unprecedented gains in providing off-grid energy access in developing and lesser developed countries worldwide.
¨[R]enewable energy with off-grid advantages was the key to addressing energy poverty,¨ according to the report. ¨[V]irtually all countries are capable of producing multiples of their current energy needs from renewable sources alone.¨
A global effort to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions essentially to zero by mid-century needs to begin at the start of the next decade and gain momentum come 2025 in order to have a good chance of limiting global mean temperature rise 1.5ºC, the report authors conclude.
*Image credits: UNDP, Climate Analytics