How to avoid the worst climate catastrophe

PARIS: In the delicate context of the war in Ukraine, which exposes the economy’s dependence on fossil fuels, UN climate experts (IPCC) released on Monday a set of their scenarios to limit global warming and its already devastating effects.

Two weeks ago, on the opening day of negotiations between the 195 IPCC member states, UN Secretary-General António Guterres made it crystal clear that dependence on oil, coal and gas is “madness”.

“We are going with our eyes closed on a climate catastrophe” and “if we continue like this, we can say goodbye to the 1.5 ° C target. The 2 ° C target may also be unattainable,” he insisted. reference to the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

After more than a century and a half of fossil fuel-driven development, the planet has averaged about +1.1°C warmer than pre-industrial times, already multiplying heatwaves, droughts, hurricanes or devastating floods.

In the first part of its report, published in August 2021, the IPCC pointed to accelerating global warming, predicting that the +1.5°C threshold compared to the pre-industrial era could be reached by around 2030.

The second, in late February, painted a grim picture of past, present and future impacts on people and ecosystems, pointing out that delaying action reduces the chances of a “sustainable future”.

The third opus looks at possible ways to slow down global warming by breaking down the opportunities by major sectors (energy, transport, industry, agriculture…), while not forgetting the issues of social acceptability and the place of technologies such as carbon capture and storage.

“How much more destruction we have to see, how much more scientific reporting is needed before governments finally admit that fossil fuels are the real culprits in human suffering all over the planet,” said NGO 350.org’s Namrata Chowdhary.

“Massive emission cuts are inevitable to avoid the worst,” she added.

This requires serious changes in all sectors of the economy, experts insist. The transformations that need to start now to hope to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.

“A new postponement of global action is unacceptable,” insisted Giec boss Hoson Lee at the opening of the session.

“Off-topic”
These questions affect the very organization of our way of life, consumption and production, on which the 195 Member States have different visions. Screening by delegations via videoconference, line by line, word by word, of a “resume for decision makers” condensed from thousands of pages of a scientific report, moreover, stretched over more than 48 hours.

In a context made even more sensitive by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which makes some activists wary of blurring the message.

“The climate crisis is accelerating and fossil fuels are the main reason. An emission reduction report that does not highlight this fact negates the science on which the IPCC is based,” said Nikki Reisch of the Center for International Environmental Law. .

While, according to the UN, the current obligations of states, if they were met, would lead to a “catastrophic” warming of +2.7 ° C, the signatories of the Paris Agreement are calling for intensifying their ambitions so that the climate of the COP27 conference in Egypt in november.

But after COP26, which ended on “naïve optimism”, according to António Guterres, the war in Ukraine could, on the contrary, further undermine climate action.

“If world leaders, both public and private, do not make progress on developing clear plans to combat climate change in the next two years, plans for (carbon neutrality) for 2050 may not be relevant,” UN climate chief Patricia Espinosa warned. . .

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