Nations review 3,000-page manual to stem climate crisis
Paris (AFP)- Nearly 200 nations are meeting on Monday to tackle a question that will survive Covid-19 and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: How does a world addicted to fossil fuels prevent carbon pollution to make the Earth unlivable?
A partial response is due April 4 after virtual negotiations behind closed doors approved a nearly 3,000-page report detailing options for reducing greenhouse gases and getting them out of the air.
“The impacts are costly and accumulating, but we still have time to close the window and anticipate the worst if we act now,” said Alden Meyer, senior analyst at climate and energy think tank E3G.
“This report will provide the answers as to what we need if we really want to get there.”
In August 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) presented the physical science: the rate of global warming and sea level rise, as well as changes in frequency, duration and intensity of cyclones, heat waves and droughts.
It was the first part of a three-part assessment, the sixth since 1990.
It predicted that the Earth’s surface temperature would rise 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, possibly within a decade.
A 1.5°C cap on global warming – the ambitious goal of the 2015 Paris climate accord – has been adopted as a goal by most nations around the world.
It’s not hard to see why: just 1.1°C of warming so far has ushered in a crescendo of deadly extreme weather across the globe.
However, recently renewed national carbon reduction commitments still put us on a catastrophic trajectory towards 2.7°C warming by 2100.
The second part of the IPCC report – described by UN chief Antonio Guterres as an “atlas of human suffering” – details past and future climate impacts and the limits of our adaptive capacity.
Delaying climate action would drastically reduce the chances of a “sustainable future”, he concluded.
Part Three deals with how to prevent global warming gases from entering the atmosphere, with chapters on key sectors where rapid and profound change is needed: energy, transport, industry, agriculture, among others.
“We are talking about the large-scale transformation of all major systems,” economist and climate co-author Céline Guivarch told AFP.
The main goal is to wean the global economy off fossil fuels and shift to low or zero carbon energy sources, from solar and wind to nuclear, hydro and hydrogen.
This transition is facilitated by the fact that renewable energy is now cheaper than energy produced by fossil fuels in many markets.
The IPCC also details ways to reduce the demand for oil, gas and coal, whether by making buildings more energy efficient or by encouraging lifestyle changes, such as eating less beef and not stealing. the other side of the world for a week’s vacation.
But humanity has waited so long to act that it is not enough to change supply and reduce demand: we must also extract CO2 from the air.
In theory – because the technology does not yet exist on a large scale – removing carbon dioxide will offset hard-to-decarbonise sectors such as aviation and shipping, and extract excess CO2 if temperatures ” exceed” the objectives of the Paris Agreement.
Likely to fail?
“Meeting the climate commitments we have made internationally and domestically is far more difficult than what we have been prepared to accept,” said Kevin Anderson, professor of energy and climate change at the University of Manchester.
“Right now we are very likely to fail. But if we don’t try, we are guaranteed to fail,” he told AFP.
The IPCC’s “solutions” report draws on hundreds of models projecting development pathways that keep the Earth within the Paris temperature goals.
“There are scenarios that show high renewables and low nuclear, and scenarios that show the opposite,” said Taryn Fransen, an analyst at the World Resources Institute in Washington DC.
“This report outlines those pathways. It is now up to our leaders to take this to heart.”
In addition to feeding into the UN political negotiations, which resume in November in Egypt at COP 27, the IPCC findings will also be important “to the ongoing conversation in the United States and Europe about the need for s ‘get away from Russian oil and gas,’ Meyer said. .
The head of Ukraine’s IPCC delegation made the point in a dramatic statement during a closed-door plenary in February, just days after his country was invaded by Russian troops.
“Human-induced climate change and the war on Ukraine have the same roots – fossil fuels – and our dependence on them,” Svitlana Krakovska said, according to multiple sources.
© 2022 AFP