Today, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its new Working Group I (AR6 WGI) report, issuing another, and unfortunately still needed, warning on the urgency of climate action. The report pinpoints the need to rapidly reduce both carbon and methane emissions this decade and should also underscore for its readers the importance of developing and commercializing all carbon–free technologies at scale.
The report’s focus on methane is welcome, as reducing methane emissions is the only climate action we can take right now that will significantly reduce the amount of global warming we experience over the next two decades. With this report in hand, heads of government must set clear methane targets, domestically, and push for an international agreement to cut methane emissions internationally.
At the same time, this report reinforces the need to rapidly commercialize and scale up a full suite of low-carbon technologies. This involves siting and building the wires, pipes and storage we need to move massive amounts of clean energy around and geologically storing carbon from industrial sources. To do this, we need to rapidly deploy fully mature low carbon energy technologies, such as wind and solar, while also rapidly demonstrating and then scaling technologies like carbon capture, advanced nuclear energy, and developing advanced renewables such as deep hot rock geothermal energy – all while shifting from today’s primary energy carriers of petroleum and methane to electrons and hydrogen.
The report’s numbers tell us that if we want an only moderately disrupted climate, we must decarbonize the global energy system at the same time countries in the Global South substantially increase their energy consumption to modern levels. Rich countries need to not only reach net-zero emissions faster but must also be positioned to achieve negative emissions through carbon dioxide removal technologies. This means that technology innovation is particularly crucial for accelerating affordable and scalable options in growing developing economies.
This IPCC report should serve as clear marching orders for world leaders. We are running out of time, and we can’t let ourselves run out of options. We must act now to rapidly reduce emissions and push the technologies needed to power a carbon-free future into the mainstream.