Every half degree counts ! Valérie Masson Delmotte reports on the IPCC's conclusions
17 December 2018
On 18 October, we were honoured to host a discussion with Valérie Masson Delmotte*, CoChair of IPCC Working Group 1, at our Zero Carbon Club event. She shared a summary of the takeaways from the report on the consequences of global warming of 1.5°C published by the IPCC on 8 October.
Interestingly enough, without this work the Paris agreement could not have been achieved. The countries most exposed to climate change - mainly island countries - only agreed to sign the agreement subject to an IPCC commitment to prepare a special report on the impact of a 1.5°C increase in global temperatures.
This report draws on 6,000 publications, three-quarters of which were not included in the last IPCC report. The scientific community has therefore stepped up to the plate to study this crucial issue for the small island states, as well as for all of the 195 signatory countries.
The main findings of the report are as follows:
We have already reached 1°C above the pre-industrial period; and the effects of the 1°C increase have started to be felt, particularly through extended heatwaves and heavy rainfall. Climate change is not an issue for some far-off future; it is already here and it affects us all.
Limiting global warming to 1.5°C rather than 2°C has clear benefits. These multiple benefits may seem distanced from our everyday lives (e.g. biodiversity), but are more real to us when they relate to food security and human safety.
It is still possible to limit global warming to 1.5°C by halving our CO² emissions by 2030 and reaching net zero emissions by 2050:
- This will require major changes on the supply side, in energy systems, land management, urban systems and industrial systems. Such changes will not be possible without an evolution of the financial system.
- It will also require changes on the demand side, in energy and food demand for example. This clearly relates to all of us.
A major innovation of this report is that scientists and social scientists worked together for the first time. The report underlines the need for an ethical and just transition, and for a mix of mitigation and adaptation measures to limit the harmful impacts: it would not be appropriate, for instance, if adaptation involved developing greenhouse gas-emitting air conditioners that were to contribute further to global warming...
The conditions necessary to constrain global warming to 1.5°C will require cooperation / political will / financing. Overall, we face three major risks:
1 - Climate risk.
2 - The risk of delaying, placing the burden on future generations and relying on the development of carbon capture technologies.
3 - Financial risk, as the sustainability of a number of sectors relies on the implementation of a planned, rapid and voluntary transition.
In short, every half degree counts. Each year counts. All of our individual and collective choices count. And whatever happens, the finance sector will have an important role to play.
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