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The world is fully capable of significantly reducing harmful emissions and limiting the ramifications of the escalating climate crisis.

We just need to commit to doing so – and fast.

That's the message from the latest report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a United Nations-backed body tasked with reviewing the science around climate change. The assessment report (available here) is wide-ranging and comprehensive, offering a detailed look at where things stand, what might happen, and how humans can take action to mitigate the worst outcomes.

"We have options in all sectors to at least halve emissions by 2030," the IPCC said in a news release.

Related: U of M study: Minnesota winters could be 11 degrees warmer by 2100

Central to the panel's conclusion is the increasing availability and effectiveness of new, climate-friendly technologies. The cost of solar and wind energy has dropped 85% in the past decade, according to the report, as has the cost of batteries. 

“Having the right policies, infrastructure and technology in place to enable changes to our lifestyles and behavior can result in a 40-70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This offers significant untapped potential,” said IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair Priyadarshi Shukla in the release. “The evidence also shows that these lifestyle changes can improve our health and wellbeing.”

Deploying this climate-friendlier technology in a wide scale could help tip the balance in humanity's favor. That means hitting peak greenhouse gas emissions by 2025, then aiming for net zero emissions — at which point the global temperature will begin to stabilize.

If we can reach net zero by the early 2050s, the temperature increase will be limited to about 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, a figure that significantly reduces the risk of experiencing the worst climate-related disasters.

But getting to that 2.7-degree threshold requires "immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors," the news release says. Which in itself necessitates a concerted, deliberate effort on the part of governments and industries — building on the increasing number of energy efficiency, deforestation renewable energy advances implemented over the past decade.

Related [Feb. 25]: Zero-waste Tare Market set to open second Twin Cities location

“We are at a crossroads. The decisions we make now can secure a liveable future. We have the tools and know-how required to limit warming,” said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee. 

“I am encouraged by climate action being taken in many countries. There are policies, regulations and market instruments that are proving effective. If these are scaled up and applied more widely and equitably, they can support deep emissions reductions and stimulate innovation.”

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