IPCC AR6: 5 questions to understand Chapter 6

If we want to tackle global warming, we have to reduce the CO2 emissions associated with energy production. Here are 5 questions to understand how.

stars

Table of content

When we talk about sustainable development, the topic of energy is never far away. It is, without a doubt,  one of the main problems in terms of ecological transition. How can we begin the energy transition, while ensuring that we meet the needs of our economy and the population? If this problem is legitimate, it does not lessen the gravity of the situation regarding global warming. If we want to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5°C or 2°C, we have to reduce the CO2 emissions associated with energy production. We have no choice. And this is precisely the subject of Chapter 6 of the IPCC’s report. Here are 5 questions to easily understand its recommendations.

👉 Feel free to consult our summaries of chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3, chapter 4 and chapter 5.

🎯 What are the emissions’ reduction objectives in the energy system in order to limit global warming below 2°C or less?

We are not going to beat around the bush: global warming cannot be limited below 2°C without profound  reductions in the energy sector soon. 

A few figures? If we want to limit warming to 1.5°C with limited overshoot, our  energy system’s CO2 emissions must decrease by 87% to 97% in 2050. What about 2030? In the same way, if we want to limit warming to 1.5°C, CO2 emissions must decrease by 35-51% and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions must decrease by 38-52%. 

To make it simple : the CO2 emissions of the electricity sector must reach zero between 2045 and 2055. Ouch. Don’t make that face: we know that the figures seem colossal. But as crazy as this could seem, they are far from unrealistic.

It is true: limiting global temperature rise below 1.5 °C (maximum 2°C) requires energy system changes over the next 30 years

Here is the to-do list: 

  • reducing fossil fuel consumption;
  • increasing production from low-carbon and zero carbon energy sources;
  • developing the use of electricity and alternative energy carriers. 

In practice, low-carbon sources must produce 93% to 97% of global electricity by 2050.

📌 What are the main characteristics of Net Zero energy systems?

Net Zero energy systems share some characteristics: 

  • electricity systems that produce no CO2 or remove it from the atmosphere;
  • widespread electrification of end uses (light-duty transport, space heating, etc.);
  • lower use of fossil fuels;
  • use of alternative energy solutions (hydrogen, bioenergy, and ammonia) to switch from fossil fuels, especially in sectors less compatible with electrification;
  • more efficient use of energy;
  • greater energy system integration across regions;
  • use of CO2 removal to offset residual emissions.

To be noted: the approach towards these Net Zero energy systems will vary depending on national circumstances.

💵 How can  the switch to mitigation options also become a financial opportunity?

The answer is quite simple: indeed, prices for energy system mitigation options have dropped quickly over the last five years - especially solar PV, wind power, and batteries. 

From 2015 to 2020, the prices of electricity from solar PV dropped by 56%, for example. As a result, solar electricity (but also wind power and batteries) is now cheaper than electricity from fossil sources in many regions.

One piece of good news? Electric vehicles are expected to follow the same trend: their prices are increasingly competitive thanks to internal combustion engines. Same observation for large-scale battery storage on electricity grids, which  is increasingly viable. After all, this seems logical: because of policy and societal pressure to limit fossil fuel generation, low interest rates and cost reductions have supported wind and solar PV deployment

In 2019, solar PV and wind power accounted for 21% of total low-carbon electricity generation - about 8% of total electricity generation. 

However, it is also important to underline that many aspects of the current energy system – infrastructure, laws, and behavior, for example – change slowly. It’s a shame, when we know that low-carbon energy transition would shift investment patterns and create new economic opportunities. 

To be noted: climate change “will affect many future local and national low-carbon energy systems”. Hydropower production, bioenergy and agricultural yields, thermal power plant efficiencies, and demands for heating and cooling will be altered. And this will impact power system infrastructure. But climate change “will not affect wind and solar resources to the extent that it would compromise their ability to reduce emissions”. Hence the interest of investing in these two areas.

📢 What do we have to do to efficiently reduce our emissions in energy supply?

The switch we have to make in the energy field cannot be isolated. Translation? This is not just a technical issue. 

The IPCC’s report underlines that “it will not be possible to widely deploy [a new energy system] without efforts to address the geophysical, environmental-ecological, economic, technological, socio-cultural, and institutional factors that can facilitate or hinder their implementation”. In this context, a broad approach will be necessary to reduce our emissions over the next few years. And we are not talking about a detail: we are setting the stage for deeper reductions beyond 2030. 

Let’s be clear: there’s not a lack of options. Several energy supply options are already available. If we want to reduce our GHG emissions over the next decade, we can

Indeed, nuclear power and hydropower are already established technologies. On the other hand, solar PV and wind power are now cheaper than fossil-generated electricity in many areas. What’s more? Bioenergy already accounts for a tenth of global primary energy! 

💡 How can we accelerate the implementation of a low-carbon energy system?

Concretely, the report highlights the importance of an enhanced integration across energy system sectors and scales. Indeed, such a configuration would lower costs and facilitate low-carbon energy system transitions. 

More specifically, a greater integration between the electricity sector and what we call “end use sectors” could facilitate the integration of Variable Renewable Energy (VRE) options. In this context, new energy systems would be integrated across district, regional, national, and international scales. 

One last thing? The speed and scope of a “low-carbon energy system transition” are highly related to the tendency of this change to support other sustainable development goals (SDGs) and societal objectives. 

Among these societal objectives, we can quote energy access, air and water pollution, health, energy security, water security, food security, economic prosperity, international competitiveness, but also employment. 

📝 What do you need to remember?

Energy demands and energy sector emissions have continued to rise. “From 2015 to 2019, global final energy consumption grew by 6.6%”. Worse: “total GHG emissions from energy supply rose by 2.7%”. 

Let’s face it: the trend is not good. And the least we can say is that we are at a crossroads. If we do not stop this increasing demand, or if we do not take strong decisions to start our switch towards renewable energies, limiting global warming below 2°C will remain impossible.

Yes, declining energy intensity in many regions is real. But it is balanced by increasing energy consumption.

So: what can we do? As consumers, we must reduce our energy consumption. On the other hand, governments must immediately begin the energy transition of their respective countries, laying the foundation for a new system based on renewable energy.

🌳 What about you?

Your company/organization can also do its part. Call our experts and ask for your carbon assessment!

Help us spread awareness

Join hundreds of companies trusting in Greenly with their ecological transition

Heading

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

This is some text inside of a div block.
 — 
This is some text inside of a div block.
 MinUTES DE LECTURE
 — 
This is some text inside of a div block.
Découvrez LA newsletter Greenly
Chaque mois, recevez un condensé d'​infos green pour parler impact et environnement.
Bien reçu !
Oups, il y a un problème...

Sommaire

What’s a Rich Text element?

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Partagez le pour plus d'impact

Des centaines d'entreprises nous font déjà confiance

Que vous soyez un particulier, une startup ou un Grand groupe, nous vous aidons à initier une stratégie qui vous aidera à réduire vos émissions et améliorer votre bilan carbone.

Après cela, tu seras incollable ! 📬

Tout voir