Climate change mitigation

Climate change mitigation consists of actions to limit global warming and its related effects. This involves reductions in human emissions of greenhouse gases (GHGs) as well as activities that reduce their concentration in the atmosphere.[2] It is one of the ways to respond to climate change, along with adaptation.[3]

Coal, oil, and natural gas remain the primary global energy sources even as renewables have begun rapidly increasing.[1]

Fossil fuel combustion accounts for 89% of all CO
2
emissions and 68% of all GHG emissions.[4] The most important challenge is to eliminate the use of coal, oil and gas and substitute them with clean energy sources. Due to massive price drops, wind power and solar photovoltaics (PV) are increasingly out-competing oil, gas and coal[5] though these require energy storage and improved electrical grids. Once that low-emission energy is deployed at large scale, transport and heating can shift to these mostly electric sources.[6]

Mitigation of climate change may also be achieved by changes in agriculture, reforestation and forest preservation and improved waste management.[7] Methane emissions, which have a high short-term impact, can be targeted by reductions in cattle and more generally by reducing meat consumption.

Political and economical responses include carbon taxes and other emission pricing models, abolishing fossil fuel subsidies, simplified regulations for the integration of low-carbon energy and divestment from fossil fuel finance. Multiple plans have been presented that describe how to decarbonize to zero emissions.

Almost all countries are parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).[8] The ultimate objective of the UNFCCC is to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of GHGs at a level that would prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system.[9] In 2010, Parties to the UNFCCC agreed that future global warming should be limited to below 2 °C (3.6 °F) relative to the pre-industrial level.[10] With the Paris Agreement of 2015 this was confirmed.[11]

With the Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C, the International Panel on Climate Change has emphasized the benefits of keeping global warming below this level.[12] Emissions pathways with no or limited overshoot would require rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure including transport and buildings, and industrial systems.[13] Pathways that aim for limiting warming to 1.5 °C by 2100 after a temporary temperature overshoot rely on large-scale deployment of carbon dioxide removal (CDR) measures, which are uncertain and entail clear risks.[14]

The current trajectory of global greenhouse gas emissions does not appear to be consistent with limiting global warming to below 1.5 or 2 °C despite the limit being economically beneficial globally and to many top GHG emitters such as China and India.[15][16]