Solutions to prevent an environmental tragedy
There is global tension due to the conflict in Ukraine that exposes the dependence of economies on fossil fuels, the UN climate experts (IPCC) publish Monday, April 4 their range of scenarios to limit warming and its already devastating impacts.
Antonio Guterres, the head of the UN was more than clear on the opening day of the discussions of the 195 member states of the IPCC two weeks ago: the dependence on oil, coal and gas is a “folly”.
“We are walking with our eyes closed towards climate catastrophe” and “if we continue like this, we can say goodbye to the 1.5°C targets. That of 2°C could also be out of reach,” he insisted, referring to the goals of the Paris agreement.
Since the mid-nineteenth century and the development based on fossil fuels, the planet has gained about +1.1 ° C on average compared to the pre-industrial era, already multiplying heat waves, droughts, storms or devastating floods.
In the introduction to its report published in August 2021, the IPCC pointed to the acceleration of warming, predicting that the threshold of +1.5°C compared to the pre-industrial era could already be reached around 2030.
The second, at the end of February, drew a bleak picture of past, present and future impacts on people and ecosystems, stressing that delaying action reduces the chances of a “livable future”.
The third opus looks at the possible ways to slow down global warming, breaking down the possibilities by major sectors (energy, transport, industry, agriculture, etc.) without forgetting questions of social acceptability and the place of technologies such as carbon capture and storage.
“How much more destruction do we have to witness, how many more scientific reports will be needed, before governments finally recognize that fossil fuels are the real culprits of human suffering across the planet”, denounced Namrata Chowdhary, of the NGO 350.org.
“Massive cuts in emissions are inevitable to avoid the worst,” she added.
It will require major transformations of all sectors of the economy, experts insist. Transformations that must be undertaken now to hope to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.
“A new delay in global action is not an option,” had insisted at the opening of the session the head of the IPCC, Hoesung Lee.
These subjects touch the very organization of our lifestyles, consumption and production, on which the 195 Member States do not have the same vision. The “summary for decision-makers”, a condensed version of the thousands of pages of the scientific report, was sifted through by the delegations by video conference, line by line, word by word, for more than 48 hours.
In an atmosphere made even more sensitive by the conflict in Ukraine, which makes some activists fear a dilution of the message.
“The climate crisis is accelerating and fossil fuels are the major cause. A report on emissions reductions that does not highlight this fact would negate the science on which the IPCC relies,” said Nikki Reisch of the Center for International Environmental Law.
While according to the UN, the current commitments of the States, if respected, would lead to a “catastrophic” warming of +2.7°C, the signatories of the Paris agreement are called to strengthen their ambitions by the COP27 climate conference in Egypt in November.
Following a COP26 that ended on “naive optimism”, for Antonio Guterres, the war in Ukraine could conversely derail climate action even further.
“If world leaders, public and private, do not make progress in putting clear climate plans in place in the next two years, (carbon neutrality) plans for 2050 could be off the table,” warned UN Climate boss Patricia Espinosa.