Last week the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its third and final report. “It’s now or never,” said the IPCC in their findings.
The report highlighted how the world is heading towards over 3C degrees global warming which is the point when climate damage will be irreversible. The working group which wrote the report found that coal must be phased out completely and that the current proposed fossil fuel infrastructure to tackle the crisis is insufficient. This would exceed the 1.5C degree limit which was set in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The working group also found that methane gases must be tackled and cut by a minimum of a third of current emissions. Tree-planting is not sufficient either; more action is needed to offset carbon emissions. The IPCC stated that 30-50% of the earth’s surface needs to return to its near-natural ecosystem to mitigate the effects of climate damage.
Crucially, the report highlighted that the current investment in low-carbon energy is six times less than it needs to be and that the entire global economy needs dramatic change. This includes how different industries operate, such as transport, food and energy consumption.
Carbon capture technologies, while still highly disputed, are mentioned by the working group as a means of mitigating the levels of carbon if the 1.5C degree limit is exceeded. The debate around these new kinds of technologies concludes that this would not tackle the systemic issue that created the crisis. It could be a means of mitigating the harm already done and could in theory continue if the technologies are successful in capturing carbon from the atmosphere.
It is reported that the document was delayed for hours prior to its publication as governments questioned and negotiated with the working group. The report is written by scientists; however, governments have a say in the final messaging.
UN Secretary General António Guterres made a statement following the release of the report, saying: “High meeting governments and corporations are not just turning a blind eye, they are adding fuel to the flames. They are choking our planet based on their vested interests and historic investments in fossil fuels when cheaper renewable solutions provide green jobs, energy security and greater price stability”.
This new publication has come at a time when the cost of living is rising across the globe and the UK is not exempt. The energy bill cap has been raised by almost £700 a year, which will have devastating effects on every household.
Each report published by the IPCC had a different message and theme. The first report which was released in August of last year found that human activity was “unequivocally” the reason for climate change and set out the impacts it has had on our planet so far. The first report was used by many activists and organisations before COP26 in an attempt to convince world leaders and delegates that real, efficient change is needed to combat this crisis.
The second report was released in February of this year. It highlighted the decreasing amount of time we have left to tackle the climate crisis and concluded that the impacts will probably be worse than previously suggested. Many called this report the “bleakest warning yet”.
“They are choking our planet based on their vested interests and historic investments in fossil fuels when cheaper renewable solutions provide green jobs, energy security and greater price stability.”UN Secretary António Guterres
The main arguments of the publication were that everywhere would be affected by adverse climate damage. About 3.6 billion people are living in areas that are “highly vulnerable” to climate change, meaning that there is a real risk to their lives and homes.
Massive extinctions of species are already underway and the 1.5C degree limit is in contradiction to what was found in Paris in 2015 when it was set as a goal but not the cut-off point. Key ecosystems are already becoming carbon sources rather than carbon sinks. This famously happened to the Amazon rainforest in the summer of last year.
Each report does provide evidence of what we can do to tackle the climate crisis, so there is hope. The third report highlighted how our lifestyles can have a big impact on climate mitigation.
In Guterres’ statement, he spoke of how climate activists are being compared to “dangerous radicals”. This has been seen across the world as the organisation Global Watch reported that 227 climate activists were murdered in 2021. It raises the question: who really are the dangerous radicals?
As has been said by many scholars and activists over the years, economic and policy change is desperately needed, so why have governments not heeded their warnings and made this change?
Naomi Klein, an author and lecturer on climate justice, has been actively campaigning and arguing that the economic system of neoliberalism has created the global climate crisis and that changing the current system is the best way to combat this crisis. She argues that the current hegemony of the neoliberal, capitalist market is blocking the reforms needed to combat climate change effectively.
Locally, Global Justice Stirling organised a “Fridays for Future” event, which was also held in 93 countries worldwide.
Raising awareness in the area, Global Justice highlighted that change is needed now. Speakers on the day spoke on how the current economic system is perpetuating the climate crisis and that system change is key.
Global Justice is also organising a climate change focused hustings for the Council Elections on the 21st April 2022, at 7pm in lecture theatre A4.
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