The UN’s intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) is a guiding scientific document for what countries must do to combat global climate change. While the final report is due for publication in the month of October, the leaked report has already got the world worried. According to the report, our planet will soon exceed 1.5°C of warming unless nations implement “rapid and far-reaching” actions to reduce carbon emissions. The report highlights the need for us to act faster than ever before. But the bad news is, despite increasing awareness about the climate change, global emissions have continued to rise.
And now that we are standing on the brink of an impending climate disaster, we really need to reduce the amount of heat-trapping emissions we are putting into the atmosphere. But, how are we going to achieve this? While this may seem like a herculean task, what we do going forward is going to make a big difference. This article discusses some practical solutions we can use to address this challenge in the most impactful way.
Step up our use of clean energy
Renewable energy is one of the most effective tools we have in our fight against global climate change. Today, wind and solar energy are already playing an important role in achieving the emission cuts required. So, we must step up our clean energy use and transition to a low-carbon electric grid. During this transformation, there will be many technical challenges, but studies indicate that integrating high levels of renewables into our electric grid is achievable and greatly beneficial for our planet.
Use oil, coal, and gas efficiently
Although the adoption of renewable energy sources has increased sharply in the last decade, the world still hugely depends on fossil fuels to fulfill their daily energy needs. So, we need to use the energy we get from coal, oil, and gas as efficiently as possible. To use the energy from oil, coal, and gas efficiently, we need to increase the efficiency of our appliances, buildings, cars, and factories. Also, converting plants to cogeneration facilities (using excess heat for hot water and district heating) can up to double the efficiency of fossil-fuel power plants.
Improve our transport system
Another major step we need to take is to redesign our transport system. We can achieve this by improving and incentivizing the use of public transport and massively increasing the efficiency of our petrol driven vehicles. We should also encourage the use of hybrids and Electric Vehicles.
Use technological innovations
Through technological innovations, we can break the vicious cycle by curbing the adverse effects of climate change. For example: through Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology, it is possible to capture up to 90% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions produced during electricity generation and industrial processes. This way it helps prevent the carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere. Some other examples include – placing a mirror between the Earth and the Sun to filter infrared radiation and stabilize the Earth’s climate and fertilizing sterile seas with powdered iron to facilitate the growth of plankton.
Combined efforts from political parties
Extreme weather events are increasingly fueled by climate change and affect everyone regardless of political affiliation. So, to address global warming, policymakers must collectively find solutions that substantially reduce heat-trapping emissions. An effective national climate policy must be chalked out, which should include several key elements, such as a well-designed cap-and-trade program to tackle carbon emissions besides encouraging renewable energy/low-carbon emission technologies, research and development of alternatives, and/or carbon tax. Consulting economists, experts in technology, give politicians the tools they need to make educated decisions that produce results and help the economy.
Individuals have a big role to play
Climate change is a threat that is going to affect us all, so we all, collectively, need to take responsibility for climate change and take action in our own lives. Our small daily actions, like – buying local produce, reducing meat consumption, biking to work, using reusable coffee cups, taking shorter showers, buying recycled paper and taking our own bags to the store can go a long way in saving energy and resources. If everyone made these small changes, the positive impact would be massive.
Climate change is a scourge of our time, and its future impact on our planet is going to be devastating. The result is already here in the form of chronic droughts, higher temperature, coral reefs and other species disappearing, rising sea levels, and more frequent and extreme storms. So, we need to act fast to address this existential threat to our planet. What we desperately need is action through changes in technology, lifestyle, policy and economics. The answers to this challenge are unlikely to come from isolated solutions but through participation and collaboration of all.