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Climate Disclosures for Federally Regulated Institutions – Canada

ESG regulations requiring Canadian financial institutions to disclose climate-related financial risks within their portfolios

Written by

Noah Miller

Published May 5, 2023

Reviewed by

Kyle Peterdy

What are the New Climate Disclosure Rules for Federally Regulated Institutions?

These regulations state that starting in 2024, federally regulated financial institutions, like banks and insurance companies, will be required to disclose their climate-related risks and exposure. 

For example, there are physical risks associated with climate change, such as extreme weather events and water scarcity. These can affect businesses and assets directly, leading to property damage, operational breakdowns, and supply chain disruptions.

These regulations are thematically consistent with other notable regulations, such as the The U.S. SEC’s proposed climate disclosure rules and the U.K. government’s climate-related financial disclosures for companies and LLPs.

Key Highlights

These regulations will require teams at financial services firms to understand climate risks within their portfolios.

These disclosure rules are aligned with recommendations set out by the TCFD.

It’s expected that these disclosure regulations will support Canada’s net-zero commitments.

These regulations will go into effect in 2024.

Important Elements of the New Climate Disclosure Rules

The rules were announced April 7, 2023, in line with the Canadian government’s federal budget. The budget included an $8 billion investment to support projects that reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). 

The New Climate Disclosure regulations were introduced in that budget under Chapter 3, “Clean Air and a Strong Economy.”[1]

Federally regulated institutions must track and report climate-related metrics. The metrics will align with the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) framework.[2] 

What is the TCFD?

The TCFD is a global initiative to develop a set of voluntary, consistent, climate-related financial disclosures for use by companies, banks, and investors.  TCFD is directly used (or significantly influencing the climate risk disclosure regulations) in major economies around the world.

The TCFD recommends 4 core elements of climate-related disclosures for the financial sector:

Governance

– the organization’s

governance

around climate-related risks.

Strategy

– the actual and potential impacts of climate-related risks and opportunities on the organization’s businesses, processes, and financial planning.

Risk management

– the processes used by the organization to identify, assess, and manage climate-related risks.

Metrics and targets

– the long-term goals and associated metrics used to demonstrate progress against climate-related risks.

Why are Climate Disclosure Regulations Important?

There are three major areas of importance. These are:

Canada’s emission reduction plan

These regulations are part of the Canadian government’s plan and commitment to become net zero by 2050. They are also a key component in achieving Canada’s 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan to cut GHG emissions by 40-45%. 

Given the importance of transition activities in moving towards a net-zero economy, one can expect this regulation to be heavily enforced with significant financial and reputational consequences for firms that take these regulations lightly.

Financial opportunities

With $8 billion dedicated to greenhouse gas emissions reduction projects in Canada’s federal budget, significant financial opportunities could exist for entities that can directly contribute to reducing these GHG emissions — by way of their products, services, or business models. 

Companies that can contribute to and actively promote the environmental goals set under these regulations should glean a host of financial, reputational, and strategic opportunities.

Raising the disclosure bar across the private sector

In its current form, these regulations only apply to federally regulated financial institutions. However, once these regulated institutions begin the process of assessing climate risk and emissions data from their clients, the clients will have significant data provision mandates that they’ll be required to meet. 

The private sector will indirectly need to develop the strategic and governance capabilities, and internal infrastructure to collect and present this information. This is expected to raise the bar on climate and ESG disclosures across the entirety of the Canadian private sector. 

Implications of the New Climate Disclosure Rules for Federally Regulated Institutions 

Different stakeholders will be impacted in different ways. The core groups include:

The analyst community

– the Climate Disclosure Rules for Federally Regulated Institutions provide critical information about a firm’s climate risks and opportunities. This information helps capital providers make informed decisions about the long-term financial risks associated with their funding decisions. 

Additionally, adding ESG and climate risk factors to companies’ reporting means investors must acquire additional capabilities to analyze and assess such factors as they relate to their investment thesis and client expectations.

Management teams

– these regulations can help firms identify and manage climate risks and opportunities. By disclosing GHG emissions and other climate-related information, companies can also demonstrate their commitment to sustainability, transparency, and stronger governance functions. 

The general public

– these regulations require that financial institutions understand essential information about the environmental impacts of their portfolio companies. This in turn creates greater transparency for consumers, too. 

Additional Resources

ESG for Commercial Lenders Course

Carbon Market Fundamentals Course

Transition Risks

See all ESG resources

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Why Is Canada Winning The Drone Race?

Snow Goose UAV

For one shot in the upcoming movie Age of Adaline, starring Blake Lively and Harrison Ford, a camera drone hovered at 2 feet off the ground, then soared up to 125 feet. The dramatic shot wouldn’t have been possible without using an unmanned flying camera — an entirely new tool for creative cinematography.

Another “for-drones-only” job is inspecting an old bridge up close, where using a full-sized helicopter would risk blowing the entire thing down. And for carrying goods to frigid Arctic areas where conventional transportation is expensive, a company called Mist Mobility Integrated Systems Technology would love you to to consider the SnowGoose cargo UAV, originally deployed by the U.S. military and capable of carrying up to 575 pounds.

The only problem for those of us here in the U.S., the land of Edison, the Wright Brothers, and Elon Musk, where we consider ourselves the country most friendly to the ambitious inventor? These innovative civilian drone applications are all happening north of the border. In Canada.

These innovative civilian drone applications are all happening north of the border.

With a quick, flexible process for giving permits to commercial operators, and a blanket exemption for small UAS, the civil aviation authority Transport Canada issued 1,672 commercial drone licenses last year, 945 in 2013, and 345 in 2012. As of this writing, the FAA has issued a grand total of just 28.

The Federal Aviation Administration finally proposed rules for commercial use of UAS last month, but even so, the agency’s cumbersome rule-making process means that nothing will change for at least another 18-24 months. So even though the FAA is dropping the requirement for a pilot’s license, you’ll still need to have a license to fly an actual plane until those rules are finalized — in roughly 2023 or so.

In the new rules “the FAA clearly concedes that the requirement of having a pilots’ license has very limited relevance for UAS operation,” says Diana Cooper, a drone-law specialist at the Canadian firm of LaBarge Weinstein. “There’s no reason that until we have those rules in place, they should be requiring a pilot’s license for an exemption. That [change] could be implemented right away. But I’m not sensing any messaging from the FAA that suggests that they’re planning to do that.”

“We have undertaken the challenge of safely integrating a new and exciting technology into the busiest, most complex airspace in the world,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, during an announcement of six national drone test sites last year.

Translation: This is complicated. Give us time. No one wants to see a drone take out a plane.

But while the FAA ruminates, Canadian businesses are also providing heat maps to firefighters, taking water samples to check for oil spills, scanning for icebergs, analyzing crops, examining pipelines, and looking for gold — all without causing plane crashes. And American drone operators are sitting on their hands — or choosing to operate illegally.

While the FAA ruminates, Canadian businesses are mapping fires, scanning for icebergs, analyzing crops, examining pipelines, and looking for gold.

“Some American companies are doing this and keeping it on the ‘D.L.’” says Patrick Meier, the author of Digital Humanitarians: How Big Data is Changing the Face of Humanitarian Response. That means that these companies can’t buy insurance or write off some expenses — and of course adhering to sensible regulations would make everyone safer.

Some in the drone industry suspect that airlines and pilots’ organizations have used lobbying to co-opt the FAA into imposing an unreasonable rule on a threatening new competitor.

Corey Caldwell, a media specialist for the Air Line Pilots Association, declined to respond to the charge, but he said ALPA welcomed the FAA’s progress.

How Canada Ate The U.S.’s Lunch

How then has Transport Canada, which, just like the FAA, is responsible for protecting airplanes in airspace that is plenty crowded near large cities, managed to approve so many commercial operators without causing the plane crash apocalypse drone opponents assure us is coming? They leave more safety decisions in the hands of the flyers, for one thing. “Our regulator understands it’s dealing with business entities, and it’s in the interests of business to conduct safe operations. It’s very bad for business if you take out a plane!” says Cooper.

And the regulatory process is admirably simple, usually requiring only 20 days to process an application for an exemption, known as a Special Flight Operations Certificate. The commercial drone operator has to explain the mission profile, safety precautions, type of technology and whether the area is populated.

Flying a Drone in Canada

“Transport Canada has had a lot of flexibility in terms of dealing with operators,” says Cooper. “It’s not exactly a rubber stamp, but it’s not meant to be unnecessarily restrictive.”

When the operator shows an ability to conduct missions safely, Transport Canada has shown a willingness to expand permissions. Rather than requiring the person start over and file a new application from scratch, the operator might gain a “good standing” certificate to say, fly over farmland in Canada for three years.

And psst, FAA? The U.S. has lots of farmland, desert, and rural areas where there’s no air traffic. Schulman points out that other countries have crowded airspace and have managed to make rules more flexibly.

“Sure, the airspace between Boston and Washington, containing New York City – that’s very complex,” says Schulman. “But if you’re operating a drone to monitor solar panels in the desert? There’s nothing complicated about the airspace out there, because there’s nothing going on. It’s a false generalization to say we have a more complex airspace.”

“In 2005, the FAA thought drones would be large, high-altitude craft, like the Predator,” he says. “They assumed these aircraft would be flying from airport to airport, with the only difference that the pilot is on the ground. They didn’t anticipate, or believe it when people told them, that these would be small, model-aircraft sized planes.”

The answer may be a stronger lobbying push from U.S. companies with an interest in getting drones off the ground.

“The pilots’ and airline groups opposing drones are better organized and more politically salient than the fragmented and relatively insignificant pro-drone group,” says Michael E. Levine, a former senior airline executive and regulator now on the NYU Law faculty. (Disclosure: Levine is my father-in-law.) “They also reflect concerns that many airline passengers have about sharing the skies with moving objects not under official control.  The FAA’s attempt to license drone operators is an attempt to address this. We’ll see if Google, Amazon and the rest of the techie world can organize  countervailing pressures that could be reflected in bureaucratic credit — or at least avoidance of pain — for the FAA.”

“The FAA better get its stuff together,” says Cooper. “Before we come and take all your business.”

Bell Mobility Palm Pre Hits Canada August 27Th

Palm and Bell Mobility have announced that the Pre smartphone will be available in Canada on August 27th, priced at CA$199.95 (US$187) with a three year contract.  The CDMA handset is the same model as is already on sale in the US through carrier Sprint, and includes EVDO Rev.A, Bluetooth and WiFi, a slide-out QWERTY keyboard and multitouch-capable capacitive touchscreen.

Canadian buyers will also be expected to sign up to a data package, with a minimum of 500MB per month being required.  Alternatively the Pre can be bought contract-free, though that will cost CA$599.95 (US$561), more expensive than the US version of the handset.

There are also a number of “smartphone bundles” on offer from the carrier, which may be more cost-effective for heavy users.  Unlimited data in such plans starts from CA$45 per month.

Press Release:

Bell announces availability date for highly anticipated Palm Pre

Palm’s revolutionary smartphone in stores August 27, available for

pre-order now

MISSISSAUGA, ON, Aug. 4 2009 — Bell today announced that the new

Palm(R) Pre(TM) phone will be exclusively available in Canada at Bell Mobility

retail locations on August 27. Due to unprecedented demand, Bell also

announced that Canadians can reserve one of the highly anticipated phones by

pre-ordering now at chúng tôi at Bell stores or at selected Bell retail

partners.

Palm Pre is the first phone based on the new Palm webOS(TM) mobile

platform, which brings mobile applications together in a unique and intuitive

multi-tasking environment that is integrated with the most popular social

networking tools and powerful search functions.(1)

The Palm Pre will cost as little as $199.95 on a three-year contract or

$599.95 without a contract with a minimum 500 MB data plan. Bell smartphone

clients can choose from a wide variety of voice and data plans, including

Smartphone Combos that offer unlimited Internet browsing, personal email, text

messaging and Windows Live Messenger.

“We’re very excited to bring the revolutionary Palm Pre and the Palm

webOS mobile platform to Canadians exclusively on Bell’s national wireless

network – the largest high-speed 3G network in Canada,” said Wade Oosterman,

President of Bell Mobility and Chief Brand Officer for Bell. “Considering the

highly successful US introduction of the Palm Pre by Sprint in June and

fast-growing Palm Pre buzz among Canadian mobile users, Bell and our retail

partners are preparing for high demand for this breakthrough phone.”

Since announcing in May that it would carry the Palm Pre exclusively in

Canada, Bell has seen unprecedented demand – tens of thousands of Canadians

have already signed up at chúng tôi for more information about the device.

Beginning today, clients can now pre-order the phone at chúng tôi at Bell

stores or at Bell retail partners Best Buy, Future Shop, The Telephone

Booth/La Cabine Téléphonique, WIRELESS etc. and Wireless Wave.

“Palm is creating a new measure of simplicity and usefulness that is

changing how people look at smartphones,” said Katie Mitic, senior vice

president, Product Marketing, Palm, Inc. “It’s a new experience to access and

connect the related but often decentralized information in your life, and

we’re eager to share the Palm experience with Canada through Bell Mobility.”

The Palm webOS platform takes multi-tasking to a new level. Customers

will love the ability to run multiple applications such as Internet, text

messaging, email and music at the same time, and move easily between them

using natural finger gestures. When they no longer need the item, they can

The smooth, rounded ergonomic design makes Palm Pre a comfortable fit in

your hand or pocket. The physical keyboard that slides out from beneath a

large touch screen provides fast access to content on the device or web.

Palm webOS also features Palm Synergy(TM), which brings the users’

information from all the places it resides into one logical view so they don’t

have to worry about tracking multiple calendars, contacts, email accounts and

messaging applications. The Synergy feature pulls information from a client’s

Outlook(3), Google and Facebook accounts, including Facebook profile pictures,

into the contacts application – a compelling feature for the 85% of online

Canadians that have a Facebook account.

Palm’s unique universal search allows customers to find what they need

easily – just slide open the keyboard, start typing to get instant results.

Results are pulled from the device apps, contacts and popular Internet sites

including Google, Google Maps, Wikipedia and Twitter.(4)

About Bell

Bell is Canada’s largest communications company, providing consumers and

business with solutions to all their communications needs, including Bell

Mobility wireless, high-speed Bell Internet, Bell TV direct-to-home satellite

television, Bell Home phone local and long distance, and IP-broadband and

information and communications technology (ICT) services. Bell is proud to be

a Premier National Partner and the exclusive Telecommunications Partner to the

Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

Bell is wholly owned by BCE Inc. (TSX, NYSE: BCE). For information on

Bell’s products and services, please visit chúng tôi For

corporate

(1) Use of this device requires providing a valid email address, mobile

phone number, and related information for account setup and

activation. Data plan required. Within wireless coverage area only.

Number of applications and actual performance will vary depending on

applications used and actions performed.

(2) Within wireless coverage area only. Use of some third-party web

applications may impact performance.

(3) Within wireless coverage area only. Requires data services at

additional cost. Microsoft Direct Push Technology requires Microsoft

Exchange Server 2003 with SP2 or Exchange Server 2007. Additional

fees may apply.

(4) Searches web and user’s applications, contacts, and dialing

information. Web search within wireless coverage area only, requires

data services at additional cost.

Palm, Pre, webOS and Synergy are among the trademarks or registered

trademarks owned by or licensed to Palm, Inc. 

An Interdisciplinary Approach To Teaching Climate Change

There’s a great need for rigorous, relevant, and impactful learning about climate change, one of the most important issues facing our generation. When interdisciplinary learning and student choice are incorporated, students can attain a more enduring understanding of climate change, think innovatively, and transform their ideas into meaningful civic action.

Our project: rising Sea Levels

For “The Water Line Project,” students researched how 10 feet of rising sea levels would impact 23 coastal states in the United States. From their research they created a presentation and shared their knowledge with their class in a think-pair-share model. They also shared their research and learning with community members within and outside of the school. 

The “Water Line Project” bulletin board had printed research slides, a map of the United States marked with paint to visually represent land affected by 10-foot rising sea levels, and papier-mâché sculptures. Based on their research, students picked one animal or insect that rising sea levels would negatively affect. Using recycled newspaper and wheat paste, they created three-dimensional papier-mâché sculptures and attached them to the same bulletin board. The public display of learning allowed students the opportunity to engage the larger school population in an interactive and authentic way.

At the heart of every great project is student choice. When students have choices in their learning and how they demonstrate it, they’re more engaged, invested, and able to see the relevancy and application of their learning.

“The Water Line Project” allowed students the opportunity to investigate and use their curiosity to generate their own questions, which they used to guide their learning. Students could choose which state they wanted to research and what insect or animal to focus on. Many students picked their state based on personal experiences, such as having family or traveling there; they chose their animal as a result of research of adaptations and ecosystems within that location. 

One way to help students begin to unravel the complexity of peer-reviewed research and data is to create teacher-guided research pathways. Using thoughtful structures, intentionally choosing where students can explore openly, and having limits scaffolds knowledge, allows creativity to flourish, and encourages student ownership of learning.

“The Water Line Project” used the online learning platform Canvas and research pathways where each subtopic of climate change, such as shrinking of the Arctic ice, deforestation, and thawing of permafrost, had its own webpage that included a wealth of resources, such as videos, articles, and guided data platforms such as that of NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) or the “Sea Level Rise Viewer” from NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). In addition, an embedded Padlet allowed students the opportunity to share their research with other students from different sections and different academic years.

The goal of using informational text and interpreted data is to teach students to question bias, consider multiple perspectives, and embrace ambiguity. This is often difficult for students and requires strategic questioning and planning. One strategy is to begin with statistics that are relevant to a student’s experience. For example, in “The Water Line Project,” students could look at the impact of rising sea levels on an area of interest, like sports stadiums, art museums, and national and state parks, as a starting point for their research. From that point, students refined their research and had to focus on certain data points. 

Giving students the opportunity to look critically at data and to consider the context with which the data is being analyzed opens up the conversation to begin framing future research and information. 

When students feel empowered to share their learning with a wider audience, they begin to see themselves represented and reflected in their communities as agents of change. This brings relevancy to their learning, since they can apply it to many different aspects of their lives.

Climate Change Is Turning The Snowy White Alps Green

The European Alps are one of the world’s most iconic mountain ranges. The snow-capped peaks are renowned for their winter sports and unique alpine ecosystems, especially in places like Mont Blanc—the highest peak in the Alps, known as the White Mountain. But these places are increasingly impacted by climate change, putting their snow cover and names like the White Mountain, at risk. 

New research shows how the creeping loss of snow cover and increase of vegetative land cover, as consequences of climate change, have impacted the European Alps over the past 40 years. The study, from the Spatial Ecology Group at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland and recently published in the journal Science, reports that there’s been enough snow cover loss that the change is visible from space. 

But the more significant part of the research focuses on the increase of vegetative cover, or “greening” of this mountain region. Nearly 80 percent of the Alps above the tree line have experienced this rise in plant growth, which has severe implications for the ecosystem and could potentially accelerate certain factors that contribute to climate change. 

Snow cover is dropping

The study team, led by Sabine Rumpf of the department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Lausanne, used remote sensing and satellite images to observe land cover changes across the whole European Alps. They found that summer snow cover, which is typically present from June through September, had a stronger decline than snow cover that lasts all year. This significant decrease in snow coverage was present in 10 percent of the area they studied. 

The researchers used two methods to measure the change in snow cover. For summer snow cover, they measured how long and how much snow lasted in certain areas over certain months. For year-round snow cover, they identified only whether snow was present—not how much was there. Different factors shape the loss of these different kinds of snow cover, which can point to various climate issues.

“The loss in year-round snow might suggest that a different threshold is being crossed, because it’s going from one land cover type to another,” Adrienne Marshall, a hydrologist at the Colorado School of Mines who specializes in snow, says. Areas that saw a decrease in year-round snow were more likely to have shorter summer snow cover, too. But greening only coincided with changes in snow cover in a fraction of the Alps, the study showed.

Snow matters. Though 10 percent may seem like a low number, the researchers emphasized in their paper that this change is indicative of an important global warming trend. Mountain glaciers and snowmelt provide half of the world’s freshwater. The length of growing seasons for alpine plants are shaped by how long snow cover lasts. Snow cover also serves as a distinct water source for plants that rely on snow melt—less snowmelt throughout the growing season will be increasingly problematic as droughts become more frequent and severe. 

Experts predict that the European Alps will lose up to 25 percent of its snow mass over the next 10 to 30 years. At the same time, the “greening” in the Alps has increased significantly. A previous study in 2023 concluded that only 56 percent of the mountain range had seen more plant growth. Rumpf and her team calculated a number that’s closer to 77 percent, which includes a boom in native alpine plants as well as newly colonizing species. The increased plant growth, the paper explains, is largely catalyzed by changing precipitation patterns and growing seasons due to climate change. 

“The scale of the change has turned out to be absolutely massive in the Alps,” Rumpf said in a press release. 

Going green

While there are potential benefits of more plants that can suck carbon dioxide out of the air, researchers say that the negatives outweigh the good. 

“From the perspective of global change feedbacks around carbon sequestration, plant productivity feedback in this region might not be that important,” Marshall says of the study. Mountain regions don’t see as much plant growth as other places around the world, like in the tropics, so any additional plant growth that does occur likely won’t have as much of an impact on carbon sequestration as other regions with a richer plant ecosystem. 

But other feedback systems could have meaningful impacts: An uptick in plants in the Alps will alter snow patterns, speed up snowmelt, and reduce snow cover. Reduced snow cover combined with greener mountains also means less albedo effect, which occurs when the white frosty layer reflects sunlight back into the atmosphere. This feedback loop speeds up the warming process around the world, causing furthers glacier melt, permafrost thaw, habitat loss, and fading snowcaps 

On the bright side, Marshall says studies like these help researchers like her gain a better understanding of how climate change affects snow and related ecosystems. 

“It gives us a useful regional look at some concurrent changes between snow and greening that help us get at those potential impacts on vegetation and potential feedback loops,” Marshall says.

“You get different changes at different locations,” Marshall adds, explaining that being able to compare changes in different ecosystems and parts of the world clarifies how she understands her own areas of expertise. “It helps to see that.”

What You Should Know About The New Climate Change Report

It’s a beautiful day to talk about climate change. Pixabay

Even tiny increases in global temperature—give or take just 0.5°C—could severely alter our planet, bringing us hotter days year-round, the total destruction of the world’s corals, more dangerous flooding, and increased instances of drought and wildfire. Even though we have the technology and know-how to cap warming at a 1.5°C increase, humanity is on track to warm the planet by 3°C by the end of the century.

What, exactly, the IPCC report says

The report combined expertise from 91 scientists and government agents from 40 countries around the world, and referenced 6,000 studies and reports. The final document is intended to guide policymakers as they make decisions about how to cap and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

If business continues as usual, the report says it’s likely the globe will reach 1.5°C of warming between 2030 and 2052. If we manage to cap warming at 2°C in this century, as the Paris Agreement aims to do, we would still be living with the extreme effects of global climate change—like the loss of all the world’s coral reefs.

“Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5°C or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems,” said Hans-Otto Pörtner, co-chair of the IPCC group, in a release.

How will 1.5°C or 2.0°C of warming affect me?

Earth has already warmed about 1°C compared to average temperatures in pre-industrial times—that is, before humans started burning lots of fossil fuels. You can already see this incremental change in your everyday life.

“We are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels, and diminishing Arctic sea ice,” Panmao Zhai, co-chair of IPCC working group focused on the physical science of climate change, said in the IPCC release.

An additional 0.5°C of warming would mean the hottest days of the year get 3°C hotter across much of the globe. The number of hot days in a year will go up almost everywhere, though the tropics will be hit particularly hard.

The differences are even more evident when you compare a 1.5°C increase and a 2°C increase. At 2°C of warming above pre-industrial levels, eastern Asia and eastern North America will see more heavy precipitation events, and tropical cyclones (like hurricanes) will dump even more rain. Meanwhile, other parts of the globe will get less rain and face persistent periods of drought.

The scientists also estimate global sea levels will be four inches higher if we reach 2°C. Ice in the Arctic Ocean would melt completely in the summer at least once a decade instead of once a century. And “virtually all” coral reefs would die off, instead of just 70 to 90 percent of them. Because other air pollutants are often spewed along with greenhouse gas emissions, reducing emissions enough to limit warming to 1.5°C by 2100 could also potentially prevent 150 million premature deaths around the world in the next 80 years. That’s because worldwide, ambient air pollution is one of the leading contributors to illness and death worldwide, according to a study of global disease burden in 2024 by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

What will our leaders do to keep climate change from irreversibly altering our planet?

To limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C, Earth’s inhabitants need to reduce our global net CO2 emissions by 45 percent compared with 2010 emission levels. We need to do that in the next 12 years. We would have to stop adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere completely by 2050. To do this, governments need to change land use practices, make our buildings more efficient, switch to clean energy sources, revolutionize manufacturing practices, and change the way we get around.

We also have to physically remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In the climate models in the new report, every scenario that keeps global warming below 1.5°C involved carbon capture strategies, which are currently largely theoretical or possible only on a small scale. To keep us from exceeding a 1.5°C increase, humans need to remove 1,000 gigatons of CO2 from the atmosphere by 2100.

“Limiting warming to 1.5°C is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes,” said Jim Skea, co-chair of IPCC’s climate change mitigation group, in the IPCC’s release.

This year, global greenhouse gas emissions are expected to rise, not fall. Most countries are not on track to meet their Paris Agreement goals. That includes Germany, which has invested $580 billion in renewable energy. The United States has declared it will pull out of the agreement entirely in 2023.

With current policies, including those from Paris, the global temperature increase could reach 3°C over pre-industrial levels, wrote Diana Liverman, one of the IPCC authors who studies the human aspects of climate change at the University of Arizona, in a statement by her university. That much warming would mean a state like Arizona, which already experiences sweltering summers, could get hotter still by an average of 7°F, Liverman said. That much warming would mean cranking up the effects of 2°C of warming: Even more extreme weather, higher seas, hot days, and the loss of whole ecosystems, like coral reefs.

The report is one of six currently in the works by the IPCC. It will serve as a focal point for the Katowice Climate Change Conference in December, when countries gather to review the Paris Agreement and discuss a way forward.

World leaders will have to take fast, drastic action to avoid the future laid out here, or worse. It’s not impossible for us to curb warming at 1.5°C, but it will require massive political will, capital investment, and mutual determination.

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