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What Does the IPCC Report Mean for the Energy Industry?

Posted on October 11, 2018

Urgent action needed says IPCC Report

The urgent need for immediate action on climate change and for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5 degrees has been outlined in a stark report by the world’s leading climate change scientists. Earlier this week a landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was released, which said that unprecedented action needs to take place to stop global temperatures rising by more than 1.5 over the next 12 years. Rising by just half a degree more will significantly increase the risk of severe droughts, floods, extreme heatwaves and the dying of nearly all of the world’s coral reefs. 

The Key Points of the Report

The report was commissioned at the Paris climate talks in 2016, and reviewed more than 6,000 scientific studies and works. The report shows a rise of 2C above preindustrial levels would cause immense global devastation compared to a rise of 1.5C. 
  • By 2100 global sea levels would be 10cm higher with global warming of 2C compared to 1.5C. 
  • Coral reefs will decline by 70-90% at a rise of 1.5C, and 99% at a rise of 2C. 
  • At a rise of 1.5C 14% of the global population will experience extreme heatwaves, increasing to 37% at a rise of 2C. 
The planet is currently 1C above preindustrial levels, and on course for a catastrophic rise of 3C by 2100. To keep the rise at a maximum of 1.5C, the report says that urgent action must be taken, including:
  1. Reducing global CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030 (from 2010 levels) 
  2. No longer relying on fossil fuels, switching to renewable energy
  3. Phasing out the use of coal entirely
  4. Mass reforestation, planting millions of trees 
  5. Building carbon capture and storage to remove CO2 from the atmosphere
As well as these large scale actions for governments to undertake, the report also highlights individual actions that need to be taken; such as eating less meat and dairy and more locally sourced ingredients, using public transport and electric vehicles, insulating homes and factoring carbon footprints into all purchases. The report stresses the need for both individual and collective action, for everyone to be involved. 

Reactions to the Report

Achieving a carbon neutral, or carbon negative, energy mix will take huge investment from governments, investors and the private sector worldwide. Phasing out fossil fuels, reducing reliance on coal, oil and gas won’t be easy and will require unprecedented collaboration between energy companies and governments. 

This week Ben van Beurden, the CEO of Shell, said relying on switching to renewable energy alone won’t be enough, speaking at at an event in London he said: 

“You can get to 1.5C, but not by just by pulling the same levers a little bit harder, because they are being pulled roughly as fast and as hard as we are currently imagining. What we think can be done is massive reforestation. Think of another Brazil in terms of rainforest: you can get to 1.5C,”

Energy UK’s Chief Executive Lawrence Slade said: 

“The report from the IPCC is a stark warning about the scale of the challenge the world faces from climate change and the consequences if we don’t take immediate and far-reaching action to limit it. The UK power sector has been a global leader in emissions reductions, thanks to the growth of low carbon generation and renewables in particular. Our sector is committed to going further and faster towards a carbon neutral, and ultimately carbon negative, power generation sector. In addition to the importance of developing carbon capture technology, if we are to stand any chance of limiting the most damaging effects of climate change, there must be a similar transformation that we have seen in power in other areas like transport, heating and agriculture.”

Claire Perry MP, Minister for Energy and Clean Growth said: 

"We are already a world leader in tackling climate change but we know more action is needed. During Green Great Britain Week [Oct 15-21] we'll outline out next steps to confront this global challenge while seizing the exciting economic opportunities."

While there are immense changes coming for the energy industry in the near future there are many uncertainties, however the need for skilled and experienced engineers will be certain. If you are looking for a position in the industry, get in touch with our team of consultants or browse our jobs listings. Give our office a call on +44 (0) 1502 564892 or email us cvs@peoplewithenergy.co.uk.

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