Urgent climate action can secure a liveable future for all
by UN News, IPCC News, CAN International
2:03pm 22nd Mar, 2023
Mar. 2023 (UN News)
A major UN “report of reports” from the authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), outlines the many options that can be taken now, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to human-caused climate change.
The study, “Climate Change 2023: Synthesis Report”, brings into sharp focus the losses and damages experienced now, and expected to continue into the future, which are hitting the most vulnerable people and ecosystems especially hard.
Temperatures have already risen to 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, a consequence of more than a century of burning fossil fuels, as well as unequal and unsustainable energy and land use.
This has resulted in more frequent and intense extreme weather events that have caused increasingly dangerous impacts on nature and people in every region of the world.
Climate-driven food and water insecurity is expected to grow with increased warming: when the risks combine with other adverse events, such as pandemics or conflicts, they become even more difficult to manage.
If temperatures are to be kept to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, deep, rapid, and sustained greenhouse gas emissions reductions will be needed in all sectors this decade, the reports states. Emissions need to go down now, and be cut by almost half by 2030, if this goal has any chance of being achieved.
The solution proposed by the IPCC is “climate resilient development,” which involves integrating measures to adapt to climate change with actions to reduce or avoid greenhouse gas emissions in ways that provide wider benefits.
Examples include access to clean energy, low-carbon electrification, the promotion of zero and low carbon transport, and improved air quality: the economic benefits for people’s health from air quality improvements alone would be roughly the same, or possibly even larger, than the costs of reducing or avoiding emissions.
“The greatest gains in wellbeing could come from prioritizing climate risk reduction for low-income and marginalized communities, including people living in informal settlements,” said Christopher Trisos, one of the report’s authors. “Accelerated climate action will only come about if there is a many-fold increase in finance. Insufficient and misaligned finance is holding back progress.”
The power of governments to reduce barriers to lowering greenhouse gas emissions, through public funding and clear signals to investors, and scaling up tried and tested policy measures, is emphasized in the report.
Changes in the food sector, electricity, transport, industry, buildings, and land-use are highlighted as important ways to cut emissions, as well as moves to low-carbon lifestyles, which would improve health and wellbeing.
“Transformational changes are more likely to succeed where there is trust, where everyone works together to prioritize risk reduction, and where benefits and burdens are shared equitably,” said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee.
“This Synthesis Report underscores the urgency of taking more ambitious action and shows that, if we act now, we can still secure a liveable sustainable future for all.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has proposed to the G20 group of highly developed economies a “Climate Solidarity Pact,” in which all big emitters would make extra efforts to cut emissions, and wealthier countries would mobilize financial and technical resources to support emerging economies in a common effort to ensure that global temperatures do not rise by more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
Mr. Guterres announced that he is presenting a plan to boost efforts to achieve the Pact through an Acceleration Agenda, which involves leaders of developed countries committing to reaching net zero as close as possible to 2040, and developing countries as close as possible to 2050.
The Agenda calls for an end to coal, net-zero electricity generation by 2035 for all developed countries and 2040 for the rest of the world, and a stop to all licensing or funding of new oil and gas, and any expansion of existing oil and gas reserves.
These measures Mr. Guterres says must accompany safeguards for the most vulnerable communities, scaling up finance and capacities for adaptation and loss and damage, and promoting reforms to ensure Multilateral Development Banks provide more grants and loans, and fully mobilize private finance.
Looking ahead to the upcoming UN climate conference, due to be held in Dubai in December, Mr. Guterres said that he expects all G20 leaders to have committed to ambitious new economy-wide nationally determined contributions encompassing all greenhouse gases, and indicating their absolute emissions cuts targets for 2035 and 2040.
* UN Secretary-General's message at launch of the Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: http://bit.ly/3FzzFUg
20 Mar. 2023
Urgent climate action can secure a liveable future for all. (IPCC press release)
There are multiple, feasible and effective options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to human-caused climate change, and they are available now, said scientists in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released today.
“Mainstreaming effective and equitable climate action will not only reduce losses and damages for nature and people, it will also provide wider benefits,” said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee. “This Synthesis Report underscores the urgency of taking more ambitious action and shows that, if we act now, we can still secure a liveable sustainable future for all.”
In 2018, IPCC highlighted the unprecedented scale of the challenge required to keep warming to 1.5°C. Five years later, that challenge has become even greater due to a continued increase in greenhouse gas emissions. The pace and scale of what has been done so far, and current plans, are insufficient to tackle climate change.
More than a century of burning fossil fuels as well as unequal and unsustainable energy and land use has led to global warming of 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels. This has resulted in more frequent and more intense extreme weather events that have caused increasingly dangerous impacts on nature and people in every region of the world.
Every increment of warming results in rapidly escalating hazards. More intense heatwaves, heavier rainfall and other weather extremes further increase risks for human health and ecosystems. In every region, people are dying from extreme heat. Climate-driven food and water insecurity is expected to increase with increased warming. When the risks combine with other adverse events, such as pandemics or conflicts, they become even more difficult to manage.
Losses and damages in sharp focus
The report, approved during a week-long session in Interlaken, brings in to sharp focus the losses and damages we are already experiencing and will continue into the future, hitting the most vulnerable people and ecosystems especially hard. Taking the right action now could result in the transformational change essential for a sustainable, equitable world.
“Climate justice is crucial because those who have contributed least to climate change are being disproportionately affected,” said Aditi Mukherji, one of the 93 authors of this Synthesis Report, the closing chapter of the Panel’s sixth assessment.
“Almost half of the world’s population lives in regions that are highly vulnerable to climate change. In the last decade, deaths from floods, droughts and storms were 15 times higher in highly vulnerable regions,“ she added.
In this decade, accelerated action to adapt to climate change is essential to close the gap between existing adaptation and what is needed. Meanwhile, keeping warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels requires deep, rapid and sustained greenhouse gas emissions reductions in all sectors. Emissions should be decreasing by now and will need to be cut by almost half by 2030, if warming is to be limited to 1.5°C.
Clear way ahead.
The solution lies in climate resilient development. This involves integrating measures to adapt to climate change with actions to reduce or avoid greenhouse gas emissions in ways that provide wider benefits.
For example: access to clean energy and technologies improves health, especially for women and children; low-carbon electrification, walking, cycling and public transport enhance air quality, improve health, employment opportunities and deliver equity. The economic benefits for people’s health from air quality improvements alone would be roughly the same, or possibly even larger than the costs of reducing or avoiding emissions.
Climate resilient development becomes progressively more challenging with every increment of warming. This is why the choices made in the next few years will play a critical role in deciding our future and that of generations to come.
To be effective, these choices need to be rooted in our diverse values, worldviews and knowledges, including scientific knowledge, Indigenous Knowledge and local knowledge. This approach will facilitate climate resilient development and allow locally appropriate, socially acceptable solutions.
“The greatest gains in wellbeing could come from prioritizing climate risk reduction for low-income and marginalised communities, including people living in informal settlements,” said Christopher Trisos, one of the report’s authors. “Accelerated climate action will only come about if there is a many-fold increase in finance. Insufficient and misaligned finance is holding back progress.”
Enabling sustainable development.
There is sufficient global capital to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions if existing barriers are reduced. Increasing finance to climate investments is important to achieve global climate goals. Governments, through public funding and clear signals to investors, are key in reducing these barriers. Investors, central banks and financial regulators can also play their part.
There are tried and tested policy measures that can work to achieve deep emissions reductions and climate resilience if they are scaled up and applied more widely. Political commitment, coordinated policies, international cooperation, ecosystem stewardship and inclusive governance are all important for effective and equitable climate action.
If technology, know-how and suitable policy measures are shared, and adequate finance is made available now, every community can reduce or avoid carbon-intensive consumption. At the same time, with significant investment in adaptation, we can avert rising risks, especially for vulnerable groups and regions.
Climate, ecosystems and society are interconnected. Effective and equitable conservation of approximately 30-50% of the Earth’s land, freshwater and ocean will help ensure a healthy planet. Urban areas offer a global scale opportunity for ambitious climate action that contributes to sustainable development.
Changes in the food sector, electricity, transport, industry, buildings and land-use can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, they can make it easier for people to lead low-carbon lifestyles, which will also improve health and wellbeing. A better understanding of the consequences of overconsumption can help people make more informed choices.
“Transformational changes are more likely to succeed where there is trust, where everyone works together to prioritise risk reduction, and where benefits and burdens are shared equitably,” Lee said. “We live in a diverse world in which everyone has different responsibilities and different opportunities to bring about change. Some can do a lot while others will need support to help them manage the change.”
http://www.ipcc.ch/2023/03/20/press-release-ar6-synthesis-report/ http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/syr/resources/spm-headline-statements/ http://www.ipcc.ch/report/sixth-assessment-report-cycle/
* Summary for Policymakers: http://bit.ly/405QYEw
* UN WebTV launch of report: http://media.un.org/en/asset/k1d/k1df15sj4e
Climate Action Network International: Civil society representatives react to the IPCC Synthesis Report.
The IPCC AR6 Synthesis Report published today holds a mirror up to the scale of the climate crisis and lays out in stark detail why the end of the fossil fuel era starts now. The body of science from the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment cycle provides irrefutable evidence to governments who have now endorsed the reports and accepted the science. It is now up to them to stop aggravating the problem and take action in this decisive decade with a drastic leap towards real solutions for a climate-stable future for all.
Civil society representatives comment below:
Dr Stephan Singer, Senior Adviser on Science and Energy, Climate Action Network International:
“The global science community and governments have agreed “unequivocally” that greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels are the single largest threat to people and nature. The science refers to the looming dangers of not aligning with the 1.5 C pathway and the deep, ambitious and equitable decarbonisation actions needed now to stay on track.
It is a fact that almost half of the world’s population is and will be affected increasingly in next years with climate change impacts. The report warns that what presently is a-one-in-a-century event with regards to storms, sea level rise, flooding will be an annual event in many places unless the world cuts carbon immediately. Governments agreed to keep the 1.5°C survival target as necessary and economically and technically feasible.
The report agreed that the most cost-effective and sustainable options to cut emissions in the short and long term are with scaling up solar and wind energy, increasing energy efficiency, halting deforestation and embarking on restoration of degraded nature as well as shifting to more plant-based diets. Overall, this report is another nail in the coffin of the fossil fuel industry.”
Lili Fuhr, Deputy Director, Climate and Energy Program, Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL):
"The takeaway of the IPCC synthesis is irrefutable: an immediate, rapid and equitable fossil fuel phaseout is the cornerstone of any strategy to avoid catastrophic levels of global warming. Yet, the negotiations this past week highlighted the clash between the latest climate science and the mainstream economic models that perpetuate a business-as-usual approach. The IPCC reports show that we can prevent irreversible harm to people and the planet if we scale up proven solutions available now: replacing fossil fuels with renewables, increasing energy efficiency, and reducing energy and resource use are the surest path to limiting global warming to 1.5°C.
Building our mitigation strategies on models that instead lock in inequitable growth and conveniently assume away the risks of technofixes like carbon capture and storage and carbon dioxide removal ignores that clarion message and increases the likelihood of overshoot. The most ambitious mitigation pathways put out by the IPCC set the floor, not the ceiling, for necessary climate action. Solving the climate crisis is not about what works on paper but what delivers in practice. There is no time to waste with false solutions.”
Harjeet Singh, Head of Global Political Strategy, Climate Action Network International:
“The new IPCC report shows the writing clearly on the wall. Governments have no excuse to ignore the emphatic warning for this critical decade. They must act fast to reject fossil fuels and stop any new expansion of oil, gas and coal.
The blueprint for climate action presented by the IPCC is not short of solutions and infused with enough hope. Every fraction of a degree of warming puts us closer to breaching the 1.5°C survival threshold. Governments must strengthen efforts to protect communities from worsening and irreversible climate impacts, such as sea-level rise and melting of glaciers, which pose an existential threat to many communities. Scaling up finance must be the key lever to make the transition to a climate stable future in a just and equitable manner.”
Kaisa Kosonen, Senior Policy Advisor, Greenpeace Nordic:
“The threats are huge, but so are the opportunities for change. This is our moment to rise up, scale up and be bold. Governments must stop doing just a little better and start doing enough.Thanks to brave scientists, communities and progressive leaders around the world, who’ve persistently advanced climate solutions like solar and wind energy for years and decades; we now have everything needed to solve this mess. It’s time to up our game, deliver on climate justice and push fossil fuel interests out of the way. There’s a role for everyone to play.”
Dr Stephanie Roe, WWF Global Climate and Energy Lead Scientist and Lead Author on the IPCC Working Group III report:
“This report represents the most comprehensive collection of climate science since the last assessment came out almost a decade ago. Weaving together the findings from the multi-thousand-page reports published over the last few years, it very clearly lays out the devastating impacts climate change is already having on our lives and ecosystems all around the world, the harsh future we all face if we don’t get our act together, and the solutions we can implement now to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change. Some countries are already achieving sustained emissions reductions, but action is not yet at the scale or speed we need.
With current emissions still at their highest level in human history, we are way off course, and the window to limit warming to 1.5ºC is rapidly closing. The sooner and more decisively we act, the sooner people and nature can reap the benefits of a cleaner, safer and more stable future. We have all the tools we need, so it’s well within our power to meet this challenge if we act now.”
Marlene Achoki, Global Policy Co-Lead on Climate Justice, CARE International:
“At 1.1 degrees of warming today, over 3 billion people are already living with the harshest realities of climate change; high temperatures, drought, flooding, and other events that contribute to acute food and water insecurity, malnutrition, and loss of livelihoods. Often women and girls are among the most affected.
The devastating impact of Cyclone Freddy in Southern Africa, the longest cyclone ever recorded, puts human faces to these figures. Governments and decision makers must act immediately by stepping up adaptation efforts with ramped up financial support from rich countries. And as the IPCC report indicates, this will only be effective with meaningful local participation and strong integration of gender-based equity considerations.”
Teresa Anderson, Climate Justice Lead, ActionAid International:
“There’s a terrifying flood of evidence that climate impacts are already far worse, and harming billions more people, than was predicted even just a few years ago. It really proves the urgent need for the UN to make good on last year’s historic decision at COP27 to create a new fund to help communities affected by climate-induced loss and damage. But everyone who reads this report will be scared for their own future. This needs to be the trigger that moves the world from grudging acceptance to rapid action on climate change.
With the finger of blame firmly pointed at the fossil fuel industry, governments need to stop delaying and start acting. For too many years, the elusive promises of technofixes or carbon offsets have allowed the biggest polluters to string us all along. Enough is enough. There is only a narrow window of opportunity to limit warming to 1.5°C, avoid runaway climate breakdown, and protect billions of people. But we can only do this if governments are willing to treat this report as a clear mandate for courageous action.”
Olivier Bois von Kursk, Policy Analyst, International Institute for Sustainable Development:
“The IPCC Synthesis Report gives us the clearest evidence to date on the devastation of climate change and our failure to address its underlying causes. The clear implication is that we must act immediately to phase out coal, oil and gas. IISD’s analysis of IPCC pathways to 1.5°C shows oil and gas production needs to decrease 30% by 2030 and 65% by 2050. Any conclusion that we can delay the energy transition by capturing massive amounts of carbon from fossil fuel or bioenergy production is out of touch with the IPCC’s assessment of the challenges facing these expensive, unproven technologies. Without a sharp decline in the production and consumption of all fossil fuels, the remarkable progress on renewable energy deployment over the past years will be meaningless for the climate.”
Rachel Cleetus, Policy Director, Climate and Energy Program, Union of Concerned Scientists:
"The stark facts in this latest IPCC report, and the devastating, costly climate-related disasters being experienced by people around the world, are harsh reminders that our governments are failing us. Decades of politically motivated inaction from policymakers and the greed of fossil fuel companies who are obstructing climate progress have put us on this trajectory of mounting economic harm and human misery.
The IPCC report is bracingly clear that a sharp phase down of fossil fuels and a just and transformative shift to clean energy, accompanied by equitable investments in climate resilience, are the only ways to secure a livable future. If policymakers in richer nations like the United States continue to expand fossil fuels and fail to provide climate finance for low-income countries, they are acting in direct contradiction to the science and to the well-being of people and the planet".
Sara Shaw at Friends of the Earth International (FOEI):
"It's very alarming to see carbon dioxide removal featuring so centrally in the IPCC report. We can't rely on risky, untested, and downright dangerous removals technologies just because big polluters want us to stick to the status quo. A fair and fast phaseout of oil, gas, and coal needs to happen in this decade, and it can, with the right political will. We must heed the IPCC's urgent messages, without falling into the trap of assuming that carbon dioxide removal will save the day."
Fellow FOIE leader Hemantha Withanage:
"In my country, Sri Lanka, the impacts of climate change are being felt now. We have no time to chase fairy tales like carbon removal technologies to suck carbon out of the air. The IPCC evidence is clear: Climate change is killing people, nature, and the planet. The answers are obvious: a fair and fast phaseout of fossil fuels, and finance for a just transition. The fantasy of overshooting safe limits and betting on risky technofixes is certainly not a cure for the problem."
Corporate Accountability director of climate research and policy Rachel Rose Jackon:
"Breaching 1.5°C is not an option. Governments will be effectively signing millions of avoidable death warrants for those who contributed least to the crisis."
Yolande Wright, Global Director Child Poverty, Climate and Urban, Save the Children International:
“The scientific evidence summarized by the IPCC leaves no doubt that urgent action is needed to limit warming to a maximum of 1.5°C. World leaders must act now by rapidly phasing out the use and subsidy of fossil fuels. The lives of our children depend on it. The climate crisis is a child’s rights crisis.
It’s only fair that children have a say in decisions which will have a massive impact on their futures. At this year’s IPCC plenary, Save the Children was accompanied as an observer by youth delegates. Save the Children has worked with the IPCC to make sure that young people and children attend as youth delegates in the future.”
The chair of the Alliance of Small Island States Fatumanava-o-Upolu III Dr. Pa'olelei Luteru:
"While our people are being displaced from their homes and climate commitments go unmet, the fossil fuel industry is enjoying billions in profits. There can be no excuses for this continued lack of action."
Visit the related web page
Next (more recent) news item
Next (older) news item