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

Illustration for article titled 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 percent 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 percent of those transportation emissions, with medium- or heavy-duty vehicles making up the next 23 percent.

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.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.

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Margin Of Error

You know you can be a “car people” and think that building suburbs around car usage, driving a car downtown and removing catalytic converters to gain a few HP are all dumb ideas.

Honestly, if most daily drivers cars were to be replaced by good urban planning, efficient mass transit systems and effective ride sharing solutions, we could get rid of of 80% of the cars offered right now, which are the non interesting ones.

Cars will eventually go the way of horses as transportation animals, they will become hobbies for people that like to drive them on tracks or country roads.

What will be left will be sports cars, city cars and work/farm/delivery trucks, and probably limousines.

When you think of it, firing up a 300hp petrol engine to move a two tons vehicle to go get a pint of milk at the grocery store 2 miles away is ridiculously inefficient.

This will not happen in 5, 10 or 15 years, but it will eventually happen.