How can we combat climate change? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Answer by Carbon Brief, Award-winning journalism on climate change, policy & energy, on Quora:
Experts have identified many ways to help tackle climate change, which include ending our reliance on fossil fuels, introducing climate laws, reducing meat consumption and protecting nature.
The first and most important of the four “key measures” for phasing out fossil fuels, as identified by the International Energy Agency (IEA), is a “massive push” for clean electrification, based on a doubling of wind and solar deployment, along with a “major expansion” of other low-carbon sources, including nuclear power “where acceptable”. This would cut emissions by around 5GtCO2 in 2030.
The IEA also calls for a “rapid phaseout of coal” – by 2030 in advanced economies, and 2040 globally – and an end to new investment in coal. These measures have the potential to avoid 0.8GtCO2 of emissions in 2030.
The second key measure is a “relentless” focus on energy efficiency, along with action to “temper” demand through measures such as behavioural change. Together, this could reduce CO2 emissions by about 2.6Gt in 2030, according to the IEA.
The third measure is to cut methane emissions from fossil-fuel operations, particularly the oil and gas industry, with the potential to avoid 1.7GtCO2e in 2030.
The fourth key area identified by the IEA is to “boost clean energy innovation”, even though this is not expected to have a major impact on emissions until after 2030.
In an interview with Carbon Brief, recorded during the international climate talks taking place in Bonn in 2017 (COP23), Prof Sam Fankhauser, one of the researchers behind the climate law database, said:
“To reach 2C it’s probably a question of stronger laws, not more laws. Most of the countries we looked at have a framework to deal with climate change that they have enacted. What we have to do now is to strengthen those frameworks, implement stronger policies, have fewer exemptions, higher carbon prices, more focused support on energy efficiency, better prohibitions on land use.”
Carbon Brief summarised the carbon emissions from meat, dairy and other foods in its interactive article published in 2020.
It shows that a switch to veganism could save almost 8bn tonnes of CO2e a year by 2050, when compared to a “business-as-usual” scenario. (By comparison, all food production currently causes around 13.7bn tonnes of CO2e a year.)
The steep reduction in emissions would partially stem from the freeing up of large amounts of land that is currently used to read livestock or grow feed for animals. This land could then be used to plant forests – capable of removing CO2 from the atmosphere.
The products from ruminant animals – sheep, cows and other animals with four stomachs – tend to have greater greenhouse gas emissions. Digestion by ruminants produces a lot of methane.
Ecosystem conservation is aimed at protecting and restoring carbon from soils, forests or the ocean. Some examples include halting deforestation in tropical rainforests and creating or expanding protected areas.
Ecosystem restoration involves the rehabilitation of already-degraded biomes, such as rewetting damaged peatlands and restoring coastal ecosystems – including seagrass meadows and mangroves (which store large amounts of carbon in their soils). Restoration can also include solutions that rely on the construction of entirely new ecosystems, such as large-scale tree-planting or artificially created wetlands.
Nature based solutions also include improved land management practices. For example, switching away from industrial farming to more sustainable methods – such as agroecology or agroforestry, increasing soil carbon content through the use of cover crops, and promoting soil health by reducing the use of chemical fertilisers.
Find out more about how climate change can be tackled in these Carbon Brief articles:
- Mapped: Climate change laws around the world
- Interactive: What is the climate impact of eating meat and dairy?
- Q&A: Can ‘nature-based solutions’ help address climate change?
- Fossil fuel use ‘will peak by 2025’ if countries meet climate pledges, says IEA
Answer by Anastasiia Zagoruichyk.
This question originally appeared on Quora – the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.