Environment: 7 practical steps governments need to take against climate change

The COP13, a climate conference held in the Scottish city of Glasgow this month, was presented as the last chance to limit global warming to 1.5 °C.

After two weeks of intense negotiations, the almost 46 countries present at the COP30, United Nations conference on climate change, signed on Saturday (11/11) an agreement to try to ensure compliance with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

But, in addition to agreements and photo opportunities, what in practice do countries need to do to tackle climate change?

1. Keeping fossil fuels in the ground

Burning fossil fuels such as oil, gas and especially coal releases carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, trapping heat and raising global temperatures .

It is an issue that must be faced at the government level so that the increase in temperature is limited to 1.5ºC — a level considered as a gateway to dangerous climate change.

However, many of the major coal-dependent countries — such as Australia, the United States, China and India — refused to sign an agreement at the conference with the aim of phasing out the energy source in the coming decades.

two. Reduce methane emissions

A recent report by the United Nations (UN) suggested that reducing methane emissions could make an important contribution to combating the planetary emergency.

A significant amount of methane is released from so-called flaring — the burning of natural gas during oil extraction — and can be stopped with technical solutions.

Finding better ways to dispose of waste is also important, because landfills are another major source of methane.

At the COP30, almost 46 countries have agreed to reduce methane emissions, in an agreement led by the US and the European Union. The Global Methane Pledge aims to limit methane emissions by 30% compared to levels of 2020.

3. Switching to renewable energy

Electricity and heat generation contribute more to global emissions than any economic sector.

Transforming the global energy system today reliant on fossil fuels, in a process dominated by clean technology — a process known as decarbonization — is fundamental to achieving current climate goals.

Wind and solar energy will need to dominate the energy matrix until

if countries want to meet their net zero emission targets.

There are challenges, however.

Less wind means less electricity generated, but better battery technology could help us store excess energy from renewable sources, ready to be released when needed.

4. Abandoning gasoline and diesel

We will also need to change the way we fuel the vehicles we use to get around on land, at sea and in the air.

Leaving behind gasoline and diesel cars and adopting electric vehicles will be crucial.

Trucks and buses could run on hydrogen fuel, ideally produced from renewable energy.

And scientists are working on new, cleaner fuels for aircraft, although activists are also calling on people to reduce the number of flights they take.

5. Plant more trees

A UN report in 2018 stated that for there to be a realistic chance of maintaining the rise in global temperature below 1.5 °C, we’ll have to remove CO2 from the air.

Forests are excellent at absorbing it from the atmosphere — which is why activists and scientists emphasize the need to protect the natural world reducing deforestation.

Massive tree planting programs are seen as a way to offset CO2 emissions.

Trees are likely to be important as they grow. countries struggle to meet their zero emission targets because, once emissions have been reduced as much as possible, the remaining emissions could be “cut off” by carbon sinks such as forests.

6. Removing greenhouse gases from the air

Emerging technologies that artificially remove CO2 from the atmosphere, or prevent it from being released in the first place, could play a role in this.

A number of direct air capture installations are being developed, including those built by Carbon Engineering in Texas and by Climeworks in Switzerland.

These machines operate using massive fans for sucking air into a chemical filter that absorbs CO2.

Another method is carbon capture and storage, which captures emissions in “point sources” in which they are produced, such as power plants a coal. The CO2 is then buried deep underground.

However, the technology is expensive — and controversial, because it is seen by critics as helping to perpetuate dependence on fossil fuels.

7. Financially helping the poorest countries

At the COP in Copenhagen in 2009, the rich countries pledged to provide US$ 200 billion (BRL 550 billion) in financing up to 2020, aimed at helping developing countries to combat and adapt to climate change.

The deadline has not been met, although the UK government, who holds the COP presidency, has recently outlined a plan to put the funding into practice by 2023.

Many coal-dependent countries are struggling severe energy shortages that jeopardize their recovery from the covid pandemic-19 and disproportionately affect the poor.

These factors prevent them from moving away from polluting industries.

Some experts believe that the poorest nations will need continued financial support to help them move towards greener energy .

*)For example, the US, the European Union and the UK have recently earmarked US$8.5 billion (BRL 30 billion) for help South Africa eliminate the use of coal.

    2050 2050

Related Articles

Back to top button