Kentucky has just 12 years to drastically reduce its reliance on fossil fuels to do its part to save the planet from the worst impacts of climate change, according to a new report from the United Nations’ scientific panel on climate change.
A new U.N. report on climate change finds it’s not enough to prevent a global temperature increase of 3.6 degrees over pre-industrial levels. That’s what countries agreed to under the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement.
In fact, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says 3.6 degrees of warming presents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to humankind and the planet.
To reverse course, we need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions about 45 percent by 2030 and reach “net zero” by 2050.
“This is going to be something that’s going to last for dozens of generations.”
Jonathan Gilligan is a climate change researcher at Vanderbilt University. “If we keep burning fossil fuels the temperature will continue to rise up to levels that most people feel are very dangerous,” said Gilligan.
By 2050, the report recommends coal-fired electricity make up just a small fraction of the world’s energy mix. But last year, 79 percent of Kentucky’s electricity came from coal. And a 2016 report from the Energy and Environment Cabinet says coal will remain the state’s dominant energy source well through 2035.
Plus, giving up coal means losing an abundant and reliable fuel source. Gilligan remains pessimistic. The report’s goals are aggressive and Kentucky doesn’t seem to have the will. "And In the United States and in Kentucky in particular there is very close to zero political will to do anything about this," added Gilligan.
But Gilligan says it’s never too late, and there are still actions that states, cities and individuals can take. Stopping global warming at any temperature will result in less suffering and harm.