There's A New UN Report On Climate Change And Ah, Shit

Photo: Joe Raedle, Getty

Hey there, car friends! You may be wondering how things are going out there, climate-wise. Every day we can’t help but think about our role in the way the world is burning down around us and I’m here to tell you that well, it could be better, I’m going to be honest.

There’s a new United Nations report today on climate change and, if you haven’t already guessed, it is not promising. This particular study, the Emissions Gap Report, measures how the amount of emissions we’d need to cut to keep global temperatures from rising 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7F). As things currently stand, we’re looking at increasing double that amount.

The UN Environment Program’s summary notes that temperatures are expected to instead rise 3.2C (5.8F) if we don’t do something drastic right now, NPR writes.

And internal combustion engine cars are a significant part of the problem. Greenhouse gas emissions from transportation make up 29 per cent of all of the US’s emissions, the EPA reports. That makes it the largest contributor to greenhouse gases in the US. Light-duty vehicles—or, basically, your daily driver—make up 59 per cent of those transportation emissions, with medium- or heavy-duty vehicles making up the next 23 per cent.

And if you’ve been paying attention, US President Donald Trump isn’t interested in certain states’ push to cut down on those emissions. California, for example, wants to set its own emissions regulations independent of the federal government. It’s a noble goal—but with pushback on the federal level as well as America’s dependence on personal vehicles for pretty much all forms of travel, it’s easy to see how things have gone downhill so fast.

Is this all supposed to make you feel better? I don’t know, the executive summary of the report straight up lays out “the summary findings are bleak.” But as car people we should be up to date on it. How much you yourself should feel guilty about this versus how mad you should be at, say, the oil companies that lied to us for decades or the politicians who continually stifle any meaningful change, well, those are thoughts for you to reckon with.

Update Nov. 27, 2019 8:14a CST: Thank you to those of you who pointed out that my temperature conversions were incorrect—they’ve been updated to reflect the accurate information.

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