SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (News4Utah) – A new report by the United Nations shows the world has around a decade to take actions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. This comes as Utah experienced a dismal snowpack, and a devastating wildfire season.
Brian McInerney is a Hydrologist for the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City. He said anyone who has studied the climate has seen this trend happening for nearly 30 years. McInerney said the increase has been slow, but we’re now starting to see it accelerate.
“These trends are increasing,” said McInerney. It doesn’t mean we’re not going to have a big snow year here and there, but we’re playing with loaded dice.”
Originally scientists believed if warming of average temperatures stayed under 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit the worst impacts of climate change could be avoided. The report now finds the worst impacts will start around 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit and could come as soon as 2040.
“What they said is we have about 12 years to turn this around before we hit some of these tipping points,” said McInerney.
The majority of green house gas emissions come from energy use for cars and electricity. Josh Craft of Utah Clean Energy notes while 12 years may seem like a short stretch of time. Things like net zero housing, electric cars, and big adoption of solar & wind also seemed impractical 10 years ago.
“We do have the tools and technology to make that shift possible if we start picking up the pace,” said Craft.
Craft said renewables are cheaper than fossil fuels in many sectors, but they have to find a way to integrate it into the current grid. Showing the economic benefits could also help the transition come faster.
“This just shows that this doesn’t need to be a polarized issue,” said Craft. “Scientist say this is an issue we need to address. We need more hands on deck and say hey let’s get this going in ways and figure out how it could help us not hurt our economy.”
Salt Lake City, Moab, Park City, and Summit County have all pledged to run off 100 percent renewable energy in the coming years. During the last session the Utah Legislature passed and Governor Herbert signed a resolution recognizing Climate Change, and working to address it.