A stark warning on Climate Change

October 11th 2018

This week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released their Special Report on “the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emissions pathways”. This report delivers an unambiguous warning that urgent and unprecedented change is required in order to mitigate the risk of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty.

Some of the key findings of the report are as follows:

  • Human activities are estimated to have caused approximately 1.0°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels;
  • Global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if it continues at the current rate;
  • Limiting global warming to 1.5°C has a multitude of benefits in comparison to a 2.0°C level of change. For example:
    •  Species loss and extinction are projected to be lower;
    •  Ocean temperature and, as a result, ocean acidity are also projected to be lower; and
    • Global mean sea level rise is projected to be lower;
  • Global net anthropogenic CO2 emissions need to decline by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net zero by around 2050 in order to adhere to a 1.5°C target;
    • In comparison, it is projected that limiting global warming to 2°C would necessitate a 20% reduction in CO2 targets by 2030 and reach a net zero around 2075;
  • Pathways limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require “rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban, infrastructure and industrial systems” (IPCC, 2018);
  • A ‘whole systems’ approach would be needed for the type of transformations that could limit warming to 1.5°C; and
  • In 1.5°C pathways renewables are projected to supply 70-85% of electricity in 2050.

It, therefore, follows that in order to limit global warming to 1.5°C transformative change across all sectors will be required imminently in order to limit greenhouse gas emissions. Difficult decisions can no longer be delayed.

With regard to the energy sector, renewables (onshore and offshore) will be at the fore of this transition but these targets can only be realised with enhanced storage options together with integrated energy solutions.

Fortunately this is exactly the agenda that the islands of Orkney, off the coast of the north of Scotland, have been endeavouring to address over the last two decades. The islands have already succeeded in decarbonising their electricity supply with local renewables providing the equivalent of over 120% of local electricity demand on an annual basis. Moves are now being made to consider how best to decarbonise the other 70% of energy use on the islands. By taking such a proactive approach Orkney is seen as an ideal Living Laboratory for exploring and delivering sustainable energy solutions. Environmental and sustainable development consultancy Aquatera, is a key member of the local team that has contributed to the achievements to date and which is working for further success on the remaining challenges.

Aquatera has a global reputation as a leading consultancy in the ocean energy sector and has a strong pedigree in the development and deployment of onshore renewable energy solutions. The company is also actively involved in the transition of traditional oil and gas activities to a more sustainable basis. With over 400 sustainable energy studies and projects completed across over 30 countries Aquatera has a vast experience to draw upon. The team has key expertise in supporting the investigation, development, consenting and demonstration of prototype and commercial scale energy projects. As well as Orkney we also have core team members based in Anglesey (Wales), , London, Singapore, Tenerife and Valparaiso (Chile) and a wider network of delivery partners around the world ready take on this greatest of challenges in trying to tackle climate change.

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