Governments to scrutinize UN’s crucial climate science report

Pakistan continues to suffer from climate-change-enhanced floods that covered a third of its territory in the summer of 2022.

Diplomats from nearly 200 nations and top climate scientists begin a weeklong talk in Switzerland on Monday to distill nearly a decade of published science into a 20-odd-page warning about the existential threat of global warming and what to do about it.

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s synthesis report — to be published on March 20 — will detail observed and projected changes in the Earth’s climate system. past and future impacts, such as catastrophic heat waves, floods and rising seas; and ways to stop the carbon pollution that is pushing the Earth into an unlivable state.

“It’s a huge moment, seven years since the Paris Agreement and nine years since the last IPCC assessment report,” Greenpeace Nordic senior policy adviser Kaisa Kosonen, an official observer at the IPCC meetings, told AFP.

Since its creation in 1988, the IPCC—an intergovernmental body staffed by hundreds of volunteer scientists—has published six three-part assessments, the most recent in 2021-2022.

“Scientists tell governments how they are doing in these critical defining years,” Kosonen said.

The report card is not good: global greenhouse gas emissions have continued to rise, even as science has warned that deadly consequences are coming earlier and at lower levels of warming than previously thought.

Since the late 19th century, Earth’s average surface temperature has risen more than 1.1 degrees Celsius, enough to fuel a crescendo of weather disasters on every continent.

Under the 2015 Paris treaty, nations pledged to collectively limit the rise in

Under the 2015 Paris treaty, nations pledged to collectively limit the rise to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius and 1.5 degrees Celsius if possible.

Carbon budgets

Under the 2015 Paris treaty, nations pledged to collectively limit the rise to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius and 1.5 degrees Celsius if possible.

An IPCC special report in 2018 made it alarmingly clear that the most ambitious target—since adopted by governments and business as a hard target—was a better bet for a climate-safe world.

But an already narrow path has become a tightrope: humanity’s “carbon budget” to stay below the 1.5 C barrier is less than 300 billion metric tons of CO2just seven times current annual emissions, according to the IPCC.

Two other special reports—one on Earth’s oceans and ice sheets, the other on forests and land use—will also be covered in the briefing for policymakers being reviewed in Interlaken.

“The synthesis report is important because it will be the last product of the IPCC for some years and one of the main sources of knowledge that will be considered in the first global inventory under the Paris Agreement,” Oliver Geden, one of the lead authors of report and a senior fellow at the German Institute for International Security Affairs told AFP.

Global temperature anomalies by month from 1880 to 2022

Global temperature anomalies by month from 1880 to 2022.

Unveiled ahead of the UN’s COP28 climate talks in Dubai in December, the global assessment will confront nations with the profound inadequacy of their Paris pledges to cut emissions, which will allow global temperatures to rise by 2.8 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial reference point.

Among the IPCC findings that could be highlighted in the synthesis report is the looming threat of deadly heat.

“More politicized”

Even in a 1.8C world – an optimistic scenario, according to some scientists – half of humanity could, by 2100, be exposed to periods of life-threatening climate conditions resulting from the combined effects of extreme heat and humidity.

There are also dire predictions for health, the global food system and economic productivity.

“What is at stake matters to everyone on the planet – our ability to have healthy, nutritious and affordable food, both now and in the future,” said Rachel Bezner Kerr, a professor at Cornell University and the IPCC’s lead author on the latest . climate impact report.

IPCC models show that any path to decarbonizing the global economy to the center requires a rapid phase-out of coal burning

The IPCC models show that any path to decarbonizing the global economy to the core requires a rapid phase-out of coal-fired power.

Floods last year that covered a third of Pakistan and the ongoing drought in East Africa both bear the imprint of climate change.

The synthesis report will also reflect the debate over how best to decarbonise the global economy, with some emphasizing the need to rapidly phase out fossil fuel use and reduce consumer demand, while others the potential of technological solutions.

Diplomats in Interlaken checking the text line by line can’t change the science in the 10,750 pages of underlying reports, but they can decide what to leave in or exclude, and they can highlight – or hide – things through wording. .

“Over time, IPCC meetings became more politicized as government representatives—mostly, but not exclusively, from oil-producing countries—interfered in scientists’ discussions,” the journal Nature he said in a recent article.

Still, “IPCC’s major studies have an extraordinary reach, informing everything from global climate agreements … to the Friday Futures school climate strike movement,” the magazine said.

© 2023 AFP

Reference: Governments to vet UN crucial science report (2023, March 13) Retrieved March 13, 2023, from

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