THE world is fast approaching a bleak future, in which the impact of climate change will be more serious than previously feared, so it will also have to advance its energy transformation, climate change experts warned in a key report.
After nine years of studies that occupy 10,000 pages, the members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued an expected summary of research, and a brief guideline of recommendations that are a “practical guide to deactivate the climate time bomb …a survival guide”, in the words of the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres.
“This report is a message of hope,” said the chairman of the UN expert committee, Hoesung Lee.
“We have the knowledge, the technology, the tools, the financial resources (…) to overcome the climate problems that we have identified,” but “for the moment what is lacking is the political will,” acknowledged the Korean economist.
The sixth synthesis report since the creation of the IPCC is an exhaustive summary of all the knowledge about global warming.
It is the first to be published since the historic Paris Agreement of 2015, which set as the main objective, for almost 200 countries on the planet, to limit the increase in the average temperature of the planet to +2º C, ideally +1.5º C.
After a week of discussions in Interlaken (Switzerland), these are the main conclusions.
1. Temperature. The average temperature of the planet will reach +1.5º C compared to the pre-industrial era sometime between the years 2030 and 2035, due to human activity. This projection is valid in almost all the scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions of humanity in the short term, taking into account their accumulation for a century and a half, according to the conclusions of the report. However, “deep, rapid and prolonged reductions in emissions (…) would lead to a visible slowdown in global warming in approximately two decades,” the text adds.
2. More serious risks. “Many risks associated with the climate are higher than expected, given the future level of warming,” explain the members of the IPCC. “Because of the inevitable rise in the level of the oceans, the risks to coastal ecosystems, people and infrastructure will continue to increase beyond 2100,” they explain. The issue of “loss and damage” caused by extreme weather events is one of the burning issues of the climate negotiations, whose next stage is in December in Dubai, within the framework of COP28.
3. Getting hotter. The hottest years today will be some of the coolest years a generation from now. “Today’s world is cooler than tomorrow’s, at least for several decades,” said Chris Jones, a scientist with Britain’s weather service and one of the report’s lead authors. The past eight years were the hottest on record to date.
4. Bbenefits-costs. The benefits of limiting global warming to +2 degrees Celsius outweigh the costs, climatologists say. “Delaying the limitation and adaptation measures (…) would reduce their viability, and the losses and damages would increase,” explains the IPCC. “Between 2010 and 2019 the costs definitely decreased for solar energy (85%), wind energy (55%) and lithium batteries (85%)”, explains the synthesis. “In the short term, actions imply initial investments and potentially radical changes,” the experts acknowledge. Ahead of the upcoming climate conference, which will be held in Dubai from November 30 to December 12, Guterres said he hopes all G20 leaders have committed to new and ambitious contributions.
5. Carbon neutrality. Referencing this year’s Best Picture Oscar winner, Guterres said climate action is needed on all fronts: “everything, everywhere, all at once.” That is why he proposed to the G20 group of highly developed economies a “Climate Solidarity Pact”, in which all large emitters would make additional efforts to reduce them. Thus, rich countries should bring forward their carbon neutrality targets “as close as possible to 2040” instead of 2050, Guterres called in a quick reaction. Advancing that goal is essential to “defuse the climate bomb,” he explained. Humanity, which “walks on a thin layer of ice”, can still limit global warming, but this requires “a breakthrough in climate action”. Carbon neutrality consists of emitting the same amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere that is removed, through different techniques. Developing countries, for their part, should align on the 2050 date to achieve carbon neutrality, Guterres says. The Agenda calls for an end to coal, zero electricity generation by 2035 in all developed countries and by 2040 in the rest of the world, and an end to all licensing or financing of new oil and gas fields, and any expansion existing oil and gas reserves.
6. Way forward. If the temperature is to be maintained at 1.5 degrees Celsius, a deep, rapid and sustained reduction in greenhouse gas emissions will be necessary in all sectors during this decade, the report says. For this goal to have any chance of being met, emissions must be cut now and nearly in half by 2030. The proposed solution is “climate resilient development,” which involves integrating climate change adaptation measures with actions to reduce or avoid greenhouse gas emissions so that broader benefits are obtained. Some examples are access to clean energy, electrification with low carbon emissions, the promotion of transport with zero or low emissions and the improvement of air quality. Christopher Trisos, one of the report’s authors, stresses that “Accelerated climate action will only be possible if funding is multiplied. Insufficient and mismatched funding is holding back progress.”
7. Governments are key. Se Emphasizes the power of governments to reduce barriers to greenhouse gas emission reductions, through public funding and clear signals to investors, and the scaling up of proven policy measures. Changes in the food sector, electricity, transport, industry, buildings and land use are highlighted as important pathways to reduce emissions, as well as the adoption of low carbon lifestyles, which would improve health and welfare. “Transformation is more likely to succeed when there is trust, when everyone collaborates to prioritize risk reduction, and when the benefits and burdens are shared fairly,” Lee said. He added that “this Synthesis Report underscores the urgency of taking more ambitious action and shows that, if we act now, we can still ensure a sustainable, livable future for all.” / International Writing with UN News