Deep emissions cuts are needed now
Environmental campaigners say the latest UN climate report makes clear that governments must say no to new fossil fuels and tackle an economic system that is speeding us towards climate breakdown.
The IPCC's latest report looks at ways to mitigate climate change and follows reports on the physical science in August 2021 and on the impacts of a changing climate that was presented last month. These reports help shape government climate action around the world.
The report presents various models of future mitigation scenarios or pathways, for reducing emissions. These models are limited in that they are shaped by a variety of economic assumptions including continuous economic growth, and are therefore hotly debated politically choices about how to act.
Many of the models presented assume that we can allow global heating to rise beyond 1.5°C - known as overshooting - and then bring the temperature back down using as yet unproven technologies at some point in the future.
The IPCC’s last reporting cycle was 8 years ago, in which time the remaining carbon budget for holding warming to the critical 1.5°C has significantly diminished.
Mary Church, Friends of the Earth Scotland's head of campaigns, said: “Today’s UN report is another stark warning that the likelihood of avoiding 1.5°C is shrinking fast. Deep emissions cuts are needed now, and the message at the heart of this latest study is that we must say no to all new oil and gas, put an end to fossil fuel subsidies and urgently start delivering a just transition for impacted communities.
“In assuming varying degrees of overshooting the critical 1.5°C threshold, the pathways set out in this report are simply untenable and show the political battles that are being fought around how to act on the science.
"Only last month we saw the previous UN report warning that the impacts of climate breakdown are happening sooner and are more devastating than previously thought, and of the irreversible impacts of going beyond 1.5°C. Yet corporations who are profiting from this catastrophe are pushing dangerous and speculative techno-fixes, that would gamble with life on earth for the sake of squeezing out every last drop of oil, and we are seeing their influence in the pathways set out.
“What’s crystal clear is that this crisis is being driven by over-consumption by the rich, particularly in the global north. Despite the bleak findings of today's report, hope remains because the science also shows that another world, with decent standards of living for all, is possible within the remaining carbon budget. But only if we rapidly phase out fossil fuels, and wealthy countries responsible for driving the climate to the brink step up to the plate and start doing their fair share of action.”
Hemantha Withanage, chair of Friends of the Earth International, based in Sri Lanka, said: “We cannot betray the promise of a 1.5°C degree warming threshold. If the IPCC’s WG3 report does not contain any mitigation pathways that keep us from breaching 1.5°C degrees within the constraints of the current economic paradigm, that is only proof that this economic system is incompatible with life on Earth.
“The priority for our communities, movements, and decision-makers must now be to end the era of fossil fuels and transform our societies and economies towards sustainable systems designed to address peoples’ needs, safety and wellbeing, not profit and greed.”