Six climate breakthroughs that make 2022 a step towards net zero

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The damage done by climate change last year was sometimes so great it was hard to fathom. In Pakistan alone, extreme summer flooding killed thousands, displaced millions and caused more than $40 billion in losses. Autumn floods in Nigeria killed hundreds and displaced more than 1 million people. Droughts in Europe, China, and the United States have dried up once unstoppable rivers and slowed the flow of trade along major arteries such as the Mississippi and Rhine.

In the face of these excesses, one’s response was unequal at best. Coal consumption, the dirtiest fossil fuel, recovered in 2022. Countries like the UK and China seemed to be stepping back from their major climate commitments.

But all that gloom came with more than a silver lining. In fact, it’s all too easy to overlook the steps toward a lower-carbon world that have emerged amid more remarkable disasters.

As 2022 progresses, a clear pathway to climate hope has emerged. New policy breakthroughs have the potential to make tremendous progress in efforts to slow and reverse warming temperatures. Below is a list of six encouraging developments from a pivotal year in which nations one after another elected more climate-focused governments and enacted new efforts to curb greenhouse gas.

1. President Joe Biden’s big win changes everything

Just as Washington seemed hopelessly stuck, in August the Biden administration and a narrow Democratic majority in Congress succeeded in passing the Inflation Reduction Act.

Backed by nearly $374 billion in climate spending, this new US law is the country’s most aggressive climate law ever. Its provisions allow billions of dollars to flow towards the energy transition over the coming decades, enabling it to facilitate the deployment of renewable energy, develop green technologies, and subsidize consumer adoption of everything from electric cars to heat pumps. Energy modeling experts estimate that the law will eliminate 4 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

2. EU taxes carbon dioxide at its border

The European Union has begun fulfilling its commitment to reduce emissions by 55% (relative to 1990 levels) by 2030. The bloc’s 27 members have reached a historic agreement to set up the Carbon Limit Adjustment Mechanism, an emissions tax imposed on certain imports aimed at protecting Europe’s carbon-intensive industries, which are forced to comply with the region’s increasingly stringent rules. Upon entry into force, additional costs will apply to goods imported from countries without the EU’s planet-warming pollution restrictions.

A separate milestone from 2022 has seen the largest overhaul of the EU carbon market to expand to road transport, transport and heating. This expansion of policy will also increase the pace at which companies, from power producers to steelmakers, must reduce pollution. The deal provided certainty to companies and investors, pushing European carbon prices to a record high for the year.

3. Birds, bees and biodiversity take a big break

Just two weeks before the end of 2022, negotiators at the COP15 United Nations Conference on Biodiversity in Montreal scored a surprise victory in the form of 195 countries’ commitment to protect and restore at least 30% of the Earth’s land and water by 2030. It has committed to pay poorer countries an estimated $30 billion a year by 2030, in part through a new biodiversity fund.

4. Rich countries agree to finance loss and damage, energy transition

The biodiversity breakthrough comes a month after another historic moment at a UN-sponsored conference. Delegates at COP27, held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, reached a last-minute agreement to create a loss-and-damage fund to help developing countries affected by climate change, the decades-old demand of the nations least contributing to warming the planet. .

Another type of climate finance, Just Energy Transition Partnerships, also became more widely used in 2022. The mechanism aims to help highly coal-dependent developing economies move away from the most polluting fossil fuel in a way that does not abandon workers and communities. back. South Africa’s $8.5 billion JETP announced in 2021 has become a blueprint for these deals. Additional agreements made in 2022 are expected to mobilize $20 billion for Indonesia and $15.5 billion for Vietnam.

5. Changes in leaders, changes in attitudes

The electorate provided major changes in leadership in several key countries. In Brazil, Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva won the presidency, in part by promising to zero the deforestation of the Amazon. The pro-climate parties also won a big victory in the Australian elections.

Meanwhile, in November, Biden met with Chinese leader Xi Jinping and reset the relationship that had been suspended by a diplomatic stalemate over Taiwan. Collaboration between the two largest economies (and emitters of greenhouse gases) was crucial to solidifying previous climate breakthroughs such as the 2015 Paris Agreement. China’s Foreign Ministry said it is in the interests of both countries to combat climate change cooperatively.

6. Taking methane issues more seriously

The world has been slow to understand the dangers of methane, a particularly powerful heat-trapping gas. But since COP26 held in Glasgow last year, countries have signed a global commitment to reduce emissions from oil and gas wells, coal fields, landfills and livestock.

For example, ahead of COP27 in Egypt, new countries such as Australia joined the commitment, bringing the total number of countries that signed up to over 150. In the US, meanwhile, the Biden administration has put forward stronger rules that will be necessary. energy companies will do more to suppress methane spills.

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Quotation: The six climate breakthroughs that make 2022 a step towards net zero (2022, December 30), retrieved on December 30, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-12-climate-breakthroughs-net.html.

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