The IPCC has found that to prevent the worst effects of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions in every sector of the economy need to reach net zero within 50 years.
Generally, when we think about emissions we think of electricity generation or fossil fuel powered vehicles - these are both contributors to climate change, but addressing these is not enough to solve the problem.
This is sometimes referred to as the 75 percent problem. How can we reduce the green house gas emissions in the sectors that are contributing to 75 percent of the problem. Advances of clean forms of energy generation such as solar, wind and renewables have been extraordinary in reducing overall global emissions. Unfortunately this is not sufficient. A greater emphasis is needed to tackle the challenges that lie in the other 70 percent of contributors, This will help to prevent and mitigate the worst effects of climate change in the next 10 years.
These contributors can be categorised in to: Agriculture, Buildings, Electricity, Manufacturing and Transportation.
Agriculture accounts for roughly 24 percent of all emitted greenhouse emissions. Cattle are a source of methane and in addition, the deforestation required for the ability to farm cattle removes trees that pull CO2 from the environment.
The operations of buildings is what releases harmful emissions. Buildings produce 6 percent of global emissions through the construction phase, the use of air conditioning units and with their operations like lighting and heating.
Electricity generation accounts for 25 percent of emissions. We need to make the electric grid more efficient. To do so we need more breakthroughs in the renewable energy sector.. For example, redundancies for solar power when it is overcast and backup sources for windless days. Inefficiencies in the grid also mean that it is not always possible to provide energy effectively when and where it is needed. Battery technology and its ongoing developments is an interesting player to watch out for in this sector.
The manufacturing of cement, steel and plastics all contribute to climate change. Accounting for 21 percent of all emissions, it is cement and steel which require energy and chemicals for their manufacture which release a staggering amount of carbon as a by-product. Finding a solution for carbon neutral energy alone will not solve the problem, but one which limits the amount of by-product emissions too.
Most transportation emissions come from logistics and supply chain such as aeroplanes, heavy trucks and cargo ships. There is already lots of buzz around consumer vehicles with low emissions like those powered by electricity or hydrogen, but cars only account for less than half of all transportation emissions.
Increased population and therefore increased consumption is likely to exacerbate climate change. These challenges are going to become even more urgent as a result. We find solutions to not to add anymore greenhouse gases to the atmosphere and develop in all areas for future breakthroughs.