UN Releases Blistering New Report on Climate Crisis

The planet today has an atmosphere that is 1.1 degrees hotter than the Pre-Industrial Era.

More worryingly, new analysis by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that there is no scenario in which the world avoids breaching the threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming set by the EU, USA and other countries. China and India (the world’s major polluters) had set a 2-degree target which is also set to be eclipsed unless greenhouse gas emissions are radically reduced.

There are very problematic implications for billions of people worldwide. Cascading impacts of increased warming will affect agriculture, increase natural disasters and devastate ecology, amongst a raft of other real-world consequences.

With 1.5 degrees of warming, an extreme heatwave would occur once every six years, according to the IPCC. With 2 degrees of warming, extreme heatwaves can be expected every four years.

Changes in annual mean surface temperature, precipitation, and soil moisture.

Figure 1: Changes in annual mean surface temperature, precipitation, and soil moisture.

“In every region across the globe”

The IPCC authors, comprising 234 scientists over 66 countries, concluded: “Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe.”

The evidence compiled from over 14,000 studies suggests that “observed changes in extremes such as heatwaves, heavy precipitation, droughts, and tropical cyclones, and, in particular, their attribution to human influence, has strengthened since” the last report released in 2013.

As a result of human-induced climate change, heatwaves are now hotter, longer-lasting and much more frequent. The world’s oceans are overheating, exacerbating further warming. The ice shelves and glaciers will continue to melt rapidly for decades, irrespective of any new action by governments. This will lead to higher tides flooding cities and will propel outward storm surges inland.

Worse still, these natural disasters are doomed to happen in such quick succession that it will collapse any preventive infrastructure, buckling societal institutions and emergency services. Furthermore, as scientists improve their ability to model and project these events ahead of time, the outlook is even more alarming.

Our window to prevent catastrophic outcomes is closing. The data below in Figure 2 indicate that there is a near linear relationship between CO2 emissions and an increase in global temperature.

Every tonne of CO2 emissions adds to global warming

Figure 2: Every tonne of CO2 emissions adds to global warming

What is the outlook for businesses in light of this news?

As the range of and extremity of weather events from around the world remind us, climate change is a critical business risk. The IPCC’s report gives us the truth behind the numbers, showing us the state and scale of the risk of global warming.

Forward-looking and responsible businesses have long been aware of the need to act now to change their stance towards energy. This is also seen in the UK government’s plans to deliver a resilient, net-zero economy.

While much of this commitment fails to live up to its promise, this report has shown us that businesses must remain committed to transformation. Some businesses have yet to understand or respond to the severity of this challenge.

We need to match our changes to energy behaviour with the fierceness of our burning climate. Our ambition needs to start turning into action now.

What can businesses do?

For the UK, commitments towards net zero have already been passed into legislation. The UK was actually the world’s first major economy to pass laws to end its contribution to global warming by 2050.

Reaching this target will require extensive, systematic changes across the business landscape.

As government interventions in industrial decarbonisation increase, it is vital for businesses to enact low-carbon and resource efficient changes to their operations. One such change is the process of Energy Management.

Energy management is the process of monitoring, controlling and optimising energy in a building, site or organisation to satisfy both economic and environmental requirements.

Energy management technologies can provide businesses with the opportunity to maximise energy efficiency and monitor and target energy waste. It gives businesses access to view energy consumption, measure energy performance, and manage energy-related costs – all in real time.

The Energy White Paper released in December 2020 suggested that: “Low-carbon and resource efficient businesses create long term economic success and environmental sustainability.”

As the global consciousness shifts towards reducing fossil-fuel use, and as businesses move towards cleaner, greener energy, how will your business make a change?

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