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How Nations Can Effectively Slow Climate Change

A new report from the Joint Global Change Research Institute (JGCRI), co-authored by scientists from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and the University of Maryland, outlines how policy changes in power, energy, buildings, and more could help slow the rise in global temperatures.

The team used the Global Change Analysis Model (GCAM) to determine how policies in these six sectors could help achieve the global temperature goal.

“GCAM is a powerful tool that brings together representations of the world’s energy, agriculture and land use, water, and climate systems along with interactions across them to examine how policies in these areas might reduce emissions in the future,” said Gokul Iyer, a co-author on the report and senior Earth scientist at JGCRI. GCAM is developed and maintained in JGCRI.

In January 2024, the globe’s surface temperatures rose 1.5 degrees Celsius above average, nearing the limit agreed upon in the 2015 Paris Agreement. Despite this alarming trend, the report demonstrates that it is still possible to achieve the global goal of staying below a 1.5 °C temperature rise.

Key Sectors and Recommendations

The report identifies six critical sectors and provides policy recommendations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase electrification, and protect forests.

  1. Power
    To reduce emissions from electricity production, the report recommends:
  • Investing in power grid updates.
  • Setting ambitious clean energy goals.
  • Setting retirement dates for coal plants. By 2030, these actions could enable wind and solar to generate 62% of global electricity.
  1. Transportation
    To decrease emissions from transportation, the report suggests:
  • Investing in public transportation infrastructure.
  • Offering incentives for electric vehicle adoption. These measures could boost electric vehicle sales to 51% globally by 2030.
  1. Buildings
    For reducing emissions from buildings, the report proposes:
  • Increasing building electrification.
  • Encouraging energy-efficient technologies.
  • Tightening energy efficiency codes. These actions could significantly lower emissions from both direct and indirect sources.
  1. Industry
    To cut emissions from industrial activities, the report recommends:
  • Investing in alternative fuels.
  • Setting aggressive electrification and efficiency standards. By 2030, these measures could reduce emissions from iron and steel by 50% and aluminum by 36%.
  1. Non-CO2 Greenhouse Gases
    To reduce methane emissions, the report suggests:
  • Implementing better regulations for fossil fuel extraction.
  • Providing incentives for methane capture technology. These steps could cut methane emissions by 30% by 2030.
  1. Land Use
    To protect forests and manage land sustainably, the report advises:
  • Enacting benchmarks for reducing deforestation.
  • Providing subsidies for climate-friendly land management.
  • Investing in wildfire mitigation strategies. These policies are crucial for maintaining Earth’s carbon sinks.
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Implementing the recommended policies could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 32% by 2030, keeping the 1.5 °C target within reach. The report emphasizes that collective action across these sectors is essential to mitigating climate change.

Credit: pnnl

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