The 1.5-Degree Celsius Crisis: An Urgent Call for Climate Leadership

We stand on the brink of a climate crisis unparalleled in history. On May 17, 2023, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) delivered a chilling fact: a 66% likelihood of breaching the 1.5-degree Celsius global warming threshold by 2027.

This critical milestone, though potentially temporary, marks an alarming first in our climate change journey.

Climate Change: The Stark Reality We Must Face

Climate change is no longer a distant threat; it’s a harsh reality we must confront. It intensifies extreme weather events like heatwaves, droughts, floods, and wildfires, wreaking havoc on our ecosystems, infrastructure, and lives. Vulnerable communities suffer the most. Coastal communities face the threat of melting ice caps and surging sea levels, while ocean acidification spells doom for coral reefs and marine biodiversity. The World Health Organization (WHO) projects an additional 250,000 annual deaths due to climate change between 2030 and 2050. If we don’t urgently curb greenhouse gas emissions and address the root causes, we risk a spiraling catastrophe.

Emission Reduction: A Business Opportunity

Beyond the moral duty to protect our planet and its inhabitants, cutting emissions presents a compelling business case. Companies that proactively reduce their carbon footprint can enjoy energy cost savings, compliance with evolving regulations, competitive advantage, and risk mitigation. The emerging low-carbon economy, powered by technological advancements, offers a wealth of innovation opportunities and the creation of new, sustainable products and services. The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) even reveals that businesses investing in climate initiatives see a 67% higher return on investment.

Tackling Climate Change: A Call to Arms for Emission Reduction

To fight climate change effectively, we recommend an array of strategies:

  • Divest from fossil fuels: Biofuels can reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by up to 90% compared to fossil fuels (EIA, 2021).
  • Invest in renewable energy: Renewable sources made up an impressive 90% of new power capacity in 2020 (IRENA, 2021).
  • Emphasize energy efficiency: Energy-efficient buildings can cut energy consumption by 30-80%(WorldGBC, 2021).
  • Curtail travel: Aviation contributes around 2.4% of global CO2 emissions, which rises to 5% when factoring in other greenhouse gases and contrails (BBC, 2020).
  • Preserve forests and natural habitats: Forests absorb around 30% of global CO2 emissions each year, making them invaluable allies in this fight (FAO, 2021).

Cities as Change Agents: Urban Emission Reduction Strategies

Cities can lead the way in climate change mitigation. Reducing emissions can improve public health, save on resilience-building costs, and stimulate economic growth through clean technologies and industries. We recommend the following strategies for cities:

  • Boost public transportation: Increasing public transportation ridership by 10% could decrease US GHG emissions by 4.2 million metric tons annually (PTA, 2021A).
  • Enforce energy-efficient building codes: Green building initiatives can reduce energy consumption by 30-80% (WorldGBC, 2021).
  • Promote renewable energy: Encouraging urban use of renewables, such as rooftop solar panels, can significantly cut carbon emissions. Solar power alone could fulfill up to 40% of the US energy demand (NREL, 2021).
  • Expand green spaces: More urban green spaces can absorb CO2 and mitigate the urban heat island effect, potentially lowering local temperatures by up to 4 degrees Celsius (EPA, 2023).

Steering Towards a Sustainable Future

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change impacts is a collective task. It’s about individuals, companies, cities, and communities all playing their part in reducing their carbon footprint. Rachel Kyte, Dean of The Fletcher School at Tufts University, put it aptly when she said, “The race to net-zero is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. But we must start running now” (Reuters, 2021).

By choosing energy-efficient practices, harnessing renewable energy sources, and endorsing sustainable products and processes, we can all actively contribute to the battle against climate change. Together, we can shape a brighter, more sustainable future for all.

Now is our moment to act—to ensure that future generations inherit a resilient, thriving, and green world. We must act with boldness, urgency, and authenticity. The time for change is not tomorrow, next month, or next year—it’s today. The stakes are high, and the clock is ticking. Are you ready to join us on this transformative journey? Because together, we can reshape the story of our planet.

If you’re ready to take action, please reach out to Ana Luiza Fraisse, Engagement Manager, Strategic Initiatives : afraisse@pyxeraglobal.org

Authors

Written By

Ana Luiza Fraisse

Engagement Manager, Strategic Initiatives