In 2021, it became abundantly clear that the deadly consequences of climate change were fully upon us. From heat waves to flooding to expansive wild fires, and now it seems that 2022 could also be a record year for potential climate devastation.
But is the news all dire? Is climate change getting better?
According to NASA’s Global Climate Change program, the rise in global temperatures could be flattened within a few years if we stopped emitting greenhouse gases today. The temperatures would plateau and remain well elevated for many centuries.
While the overall emission of greenhouse gases continues today, climate change is actually getting better – slightly. As highlighted by the Global Carbon Project (GCP), fossil emissions in 2021 reached 36.4bn tonnes of CO2 (GtCO2), only 0.8% below their pre-COVID 19 pandemic high.
However, according to the GCP, global CO2 output overall may have been effectively flat over the past decade. In addition, if nations meet their emissions pledges under the Paris agreement, we could reduce the projecting 2.7 °C of warming this century to 2.4 °C. Also, if every country meets its net-zero emissions targets by around the middle of the century, this number will drop to 1.8 °C.
On top of this, the International Energy Agency projects that the global capacity for renewable energy will increase to 60 percent by 2026 with the increasingly strict climate policies and the costs of producing solar and wind energy decreasing being the key drivers.
Other variables are helping to mitigate climate change, which are the rise in electric vehicles, carbon-free steel and cement, and the increase in popularity of plant-based meat alternatives.
In addition, if the venture capital community is any indicator, climate and clean-tech startups investments have risen to levels never before seen, totaling more than $30 billion through the third quarter in 2021.
To answer the universal question about climate change getting better. It seems that we may be on the right path, but much more needs to be done. If nations meet their emission goals, and business trends continue to point towards more progressive solutions, we may be able to counter the damage that humans have done to planet Earth.
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