Published: Thu, Dec 17, 2015
Type: Publication

Climate change will impact everyone and everything on the planet. The recent IPCC reports of 2013 and 2014 confirm that climate change is happening, and if our emissions of greenhouse gases continue, the consequences will be disastrous.

The IPCC reports tell us that warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented.The human influence on our climate is clear from the increase concentration of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, in particular carbon dioxide. CO2 levels have increased by 40% since pre-industrial times, primarily from burning fossil fuels and net land use change. Since pre-industrialisation, we have emitted over 582 billion tonnes of carbon into our atmosphere. To stay below 2°C warming, we must limit cumulative emissions to 1 trillion tonnes of carbon (3.67 trillion tonnes of CO2). Since 2010 we have surpassed 50 billion tonnes of CO2 of total greenhouse gas emissions per annum driven by a rising trend from energy demand. At this fixed rate we will have burned through the remaining carbon budget in less than 30 years.

To avert more than 2°C global warming and the associated risks of such scenarios we must stem the rise in greenhouse gas emissions and achieve a net zero emission society by the end of this century. This is a great challenge for us as it implies the transformation of energy, industry, agriculture and forestry systems. We expect WBCSD members to lead and prosper in this transformation towards a
more sustainable society.