Why Aggressive Action is Pertinent in Addressing Climate Change

by Kunaal Venugopal

Project Drawdown, a climate change mitigation research group, has found that although utilizing solutions that meet the Paris climate targets could have negative short-term effects, they would prove beneficial in the long-term. The group’s 2020 review estimates costs and profits for different agricultural solutions. Based on their research, they have produced one important conclusion: though the upfront cost of $25 trillion of these solutions is notable, the result would be five to six times larger.

The research group evaluates climate solutions that could cause greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere to decline, called carbon “drawdown.” Their latest review credits two possible outlines. The first is for climate solutions to meet the Paris climate target of being less than 2 °C hotter than pre-industrial temperatures. Based on this outline, carbon drawdown could be achieved in the 2060s. However, the second outline is significantly more aspiring. Instead of 2 °C more, it targets a temperature of 1.5 °C higher than pre-industrial temperatures. This would allow for the goal of carbon drawdown to be achieved in the 2040s. 

The main difference between the two outlines is the rate at which wind and solar energy are employed around the world. The second outline estimates 12 percent more use of wind and solar energy globally than the first outline, stressing the positive effects of aggressive action in the fight against climate change.

Project Drawdown estimates that total savings would come out to $145 trillion using the first outline, and this doesn’t factor in the substantial savings that would follow from improving public health. The reason for such a significant number in the long-term is the savings that come from maintaining alternatives such as wind and solar. Lazard’s annual LCOE (Levelized Cost of Energy) reports that these alternatives have seen a decrease of 88% and 69% in costs since 2009, respectively. On the other hand, the LCOE reports that coal and nuclear energy have seen a 9% decrease and a 23% increase in costs, respectively. This further emphasizes the potential savings that could come as a result of aggressive action and utilizing renewable energy sources rather than fossil fuels.

Based on the variety of solutions considered by Project Drawdown, it is clear that there is no single solution for the problem of climate change. However, their research elucidates that aggressive action is essential in working towards mitigating climate change. Solutions that take aggressive action can produce carbon drawdown decades before less-aggressive ones, emphasizing the pertinence of aggressive action in combating climate change.