climate change earth melting

IPCC Report Paints Grim Climate Change Picture

  August 13, 2021

By Greg Zimmerman

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its sixth assessment report this week, and the findings were, in a word, bad. We’ve already warmed 1.1 degrees C from pre-industrial levels to reach the highest average annual temperature in 125,000 years. And further, the report says it’s already too late to avoid rising to 1.5 degrees C of warming since pre-1900s levels within the next two decades. This will cause increased wildfires, drought, hurricanes, and other extreme weather events, as well as unprecedented sea level rises.

Now, the goal should be to keep that temperature rise only to 1.5 degrees by 2100, the report says. And buildings will have a huge role to play in cutting the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing this sharp temperature rise.

Buildings account for about 40 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, and about 74 percent of electricity use. The solutions are not new, and not exactly earth-shatteringly difficult: Buildings need to use less energy, and the energy they do use needs to be decarbonized, i.e., from renewable sources.  

The report also found a huge contributor to the rise in temperature is the urban heat island effect - that urban areas are much warmer and trap much more heat than surrounding areas.

Time has never been more critical, the report says. There is still time to avoid abject catastrophe, but only if wide scale changes to reduce and eliminate planet-strangling greenhouse gas emissions are taken now. 

Greg Zimmerman is deputy editor, Facility Market.



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