Global warming is getting worse, but we have the tools to fight


California is making progress toward carbon neutrality, but one sector still needs bigger collective action.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — We have the tools; we just need to use them. That is the message from the United Nations report on how to address the growing climate change crisis. 

Emerging technology like solar and wind energy, electric cars as well as improving agricultural practices can greatly help to curb the unprecedented warming.

Elke Weber, lead author in the demand, services and social aspects of mitigation chapter says individual actions will only make a small difference. However, changes in how we travel, eat, work and live when supported by the right infrastructure and technology could reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by 40% to 70%.

For the first time, the report is looking at the human side of the equation like how to implement job training and education. This can help ease the transition to a low carbon future. In fact, many countries are already training the workforce in the clean energy and manufacturing industry.

Nan Zhou, with Berkeley Lab and one of the U.N. report’s lead authors, says these countries are implementing various programs and incentives to encourage equitable development. 

For California, some of those those changes are already happening. The latest tracking report from the California Air Resources Board shows emissions across the board have fallen since 2000. Even though there has been progress toward clean and renewable energy sources, transportation continues to be the biggest greenhouse gas contributor in the state.

Zhou says the new U.N. report addresses this by suggesting a push toward reducing demand through driving less, relying more on public transportation and telecommuting.

Although transportation is the biggest issue in California, Zhou says regions around the country have different focus areas. Some emerging economies have bigger concerns with manufacturing or industry. Yet others, will need to focus on better agricultural practices. The bottom line is it will take bigger collective action in all sectors that emit greenhouse gases, using better technology and practice to address the growing global crisis.

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