The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) presented on Sunday (2 November) in Copenhagen its Assessment Synthesis Report. The conclusions of the report result from the week-long discussion between scientists and governments involved. According to the authors, while the world is on a perilous path toward irreversibly damaging the global environment, we can still avoid the most serious impacts through immediate action. Adapting to climate change is important but it is mitigation that is central to achieve sustainable actions.
“We have the means to limit climate change,” said R. K. Pachauri, Chair of the IPCC. “The solutions are many and allow for continued economic and human development. All we need is the will to change, which we trust will be motivated by knowledge and an understanding of the science of climate change.” (Source: IPCC press release).
The message of the IPCC on actions to be taken is important for two reasons.
First, the report calls for low and zero-carbon electricity generation technologies to be scaled up by 80% by 2050, and for fossil fuel (without carbon capture and storage technology, or CCS) to be phased out almost entirely by 2100 for global warming to be kept below the of 2ºC (relative to pre- industrial levels) target (source: the IPCC’s Assessment Synthesis Report). This is a strong message for governments to continue and accelerate the transition to "clean energy economies." The report highlights as well the social and economic benefits of this change. According to the Global Campaign on Climate Action (GCCA), which represents a network of more 450 non-governmental organizations, “such a transition is not only possible, but is economically viable." Rapid development of renewables since the body’s last Assessment Report in 2007 means that clean energy is cheaper and stronger than ever before, and bringing multiple societal benefits - including increased energy access, jobs and improved public health. Continuing down such a path and investing in renewable energy in the next few decades will also be cheaper than paying a rapidly growing bill for "severe, pervasive, and irreversible impacts.” Such cost savings would vastly outweigh the costs associated with the clean energy transition, says the IPCC.”
Second, 100 governments have agreed to this strong message on fossil fuel, including the USA and China. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, addressing reporters in Copenhagen, warned that “the science has spoken, there is no ambiguity in the message. Leaders must act now, time is not on our side.” (Source: the GCCA).
On the basis of this report and the support it has already garnered, we look forward with optimism to the climate discussions taking place next month in Lima.