08 Apr 2022
Venue: International Environment House II & Online | Webex
Organization: Geneva Environment Network
Following the release of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Climate Change 2022 Report: Mitigation of Climate Change, this hybrid event presented and discusses the findings of the report.
About this Session
The IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) comprises three Working Group contributions: Working Group I (the physical science basis), Working Group II (impacts, adaptation and vulnerability) and Working Group III (mitigation) and a Synthesis Report. The Synthesis Report integrates the three Working Group reports as well as the findings from the three cross-Working Group Special Reports prepared during this assessment cycle: Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC (SR15, October 2018), Special Report on Climate Change and Land (SRCCL, August 2019) and Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC, September 2019).
The Working Group III (WG III) contributions to the AR6 – Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change is scheduled to be launched on 4 April 2022. Informed by the reports of WGI and WGII showing the state and threat of global climate change on humans and the environment, the WG III will provide an assessment of the world’s progress in limiting emissions, and the range of available options in mitigating the effects of climate change.
Following the Panel’s approval of the summary for policymakers, and the official launch of the report, this briefing provided an overview of the WG III contributions to the AR6 report, with leading experts reflecting on its findings and the next steps.
By order of intervention
IPCC Focal Point, Switzerland
IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair
IPCC Working Group III Vice-Chair
UN Assistant Secretary-General & Head of UNEP, New York Office
Chief Executive Officer, We Mean Business
Lindsey FIELDER COOK
Representative for Climate Change, Quaker United Nations Office
Manager at United Nations Climate Secretariat (UNFCCC) | Moderator
Dina IONESCO | Manager at United Nations Climate Secretariat (UNFCCC) | Moderator
The Working Group III Report on Climate Change: “Climate Change 2022: Mitigation and Adaptation” raises both reasons to be pessimistic and for being optimistic. This Report also brings in the understanding of mitigation and threats of climate change to the reality of lives, making references to cities, transports, buildings, land use and much more, allowing the scientific understanding to permeate the lives of the general audience.
Today’s panel will try to respond to how we can be optimistic and deal with the pessimistic side at the same time, while also providing an understanding of the progresses in terms of climate action according to the Report.
Sebastian KÖNIG | Chief Scientist in the International Affairs Division of the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment, IPCC Focal Point for Switzerland
A marathon is a long-distance foot race with a distance of 42.195 kilometres, that can be completed by running or with a run/walk strategy. The approval session of Working Group III was a perfect analogy for a marathon race: it was not just the issue of covering a long distance. While we were diving into the intricacies of the language here, we also took the trail routes, and for a large part of the meeting delegations choose a run/walk strategy over running.
Switzerland is glad to host so many centers of excellence here in Geneva. Alongside with Nairobi, Geneva is the global center of international environmental policy and no place in the world is hosting more international environmental negotiations and institutions than Geneva.
Knowledge is here inside International Geneva, where the world’s competence centers for environment, health, trade, development, or labor are located.
The IPCC report shows that many mitigation options are, by varying in the degree of potential and costs, available in all sectors: energy, land use and land use change, transport, or buildings.
- The role of trade becomes very clear in the report: “Trade rules have the potential to stimulate international adoption of mitigation technologies and policies”. There is no doubt, that the WTO and the cluster of actors have a critical and overarching role to play.
- For health, as the summary declares urgency: “Without urgent, effective and equitable mitigation actions, climate change increasingly threatens the health and livelihoods of people around the globe, ecosystem health and biodiversity.” Bringing forward WHO and the health of people, the health of biodiversity is equally important, a topic that is at the core of business for many actors in this room and in the greater Geneva area as such.
- For the chemicals and wastes cluster, including the way we make use of natural resources, with high confidence the report states that, “Plastic is the material for which demand has been growing the strongest since 1970 , Reducing emissions from the production and use of chemicals would need to rely on a life cycle approach, including increased plastics recycling…”
Over the decades, the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions have been working on setting the basis for the sound management of chemicals and waste, also setting a reference with the amendment related to plastic waste. With the new mandate by the UNEA, member states have been given the mandate towards establishing a new UN Plastics treaty. The IPCC has challenged us to work towards a full life cycle approach and towards a circular economy, for plastics and beyond.
Mitigation of climate change is deeply rooted in many areas of action. Geneva is also the place where numerous intergovernmental organizations, permanent governmental missions, NGOs, platforms, academic institutions and other stakeholders contributing to the global environmental agenda are based. Geneva is, therefore, an ideal location to reinforce and develop synergies among all these actors towards climate action.
The new report provides an overview of the tools available to significantly reduce the emissions, also for the next decade to come. Referring to the marathon analogy with the approval session of the SPM, when looking forward towards climate action, it may be more similar to Iron Woman and Iron Man races. But instead of doing that each by our own, we must do it collectively.
Presentation of IPCC WG III Report
Jim SKEA | IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair
- The assessment was prepared by 278 authors from 65 countries.
- We reviewed more than 80,000 scientific papers and considered close to 60,000 individual comments from governments and experts as part of the drafting process. All of this feedback really helped to strengthen the report.
Key Findings: Progress on Limiting Emissions
The reality is that greenhouse gas emissions which are causing global warming are at their highest level in history. Emissions in 2019 were about 12% higher than they were in 2010 and 54% higher than they were in 1990.
Unambiguously, we’re not on track to limit warming to 1.5°C.
However, there are messages of hope in the report.
- There’s increased evidence of climate action and the average annual rate of growth in global emissions slowed in the last decade: from 2.1% per year in the early part of this century to 1.3% per year between 2010 and 2019. This decline is particularly noticeable in the energy and industry sectors where the rate of growth has more than halved. Despite this progress our assessment concludes that unless there’s immediate and deep emission reductions across all sectors, 1.5°C will be beyond reach.
- Some countries have achieved a steady decrease in emissions over several years at rates consistent with limiting warming to 2°C. A growing number of cities are actually setting net zero targets.
- An increasing range of policies and laws of enhanced energy efficiency, reduced rates of deforestation and accelerated the deployment of renewable energy.
- Climate laws that result in reduced or avoided emissions are present in 56 countries covering more than half of global emissions.
- One particular success is around renewable energy. Since 2010, there have been sustained decreases in the unit costs with reductions of 85% for solar energy, 55% for wind power and 85% for batteries. In some cases, these costs have fallen below those of fossil fuels.
- At the same time, there have been large increases in installed capacity (see figure).
In policies that were implemented by December 2020, we conclude that without strengthening mitigation efforts, greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) are projected to lead to warming of 3.2°C.
- Limiting warming to 1.5°C requires GHGs to peak before 2025 at the latest, and be reduced by 43% by 2030. Emissions from methane would also need to be reduced by about a third over the same period. Even with this, it’s almost inevitable that we will temporarily exceed 1.5°C. However, we could return below this level by the end of the century.
- Limiting warming to 2°C still requires global emissions to peak before 2025 at the latest, and be reduced by a quarter by 2030. The global temperatures will stabilise when we reach net zero carbon dioxide emissions.
To limit warming to around 1.5°C degrees requires reaching net zero carbon dioxide emissions in the early 2050s. For 2°C, carbon dioxide emissions would have to be reduced to net zero in the early 2070s, and deep and sustained reductions of other gases would also be required.
Diana URGE-VORSTATZ | IPCC Working Group III Vice-Chair
Options Available in Each Sector to Combat Climate Change
In every sector, there are options available now that can at least have emissions by 2030 and keep open the possibility of limiting warming to 1.5°C.
- Energy sector accounts for about a third of all emissions, and major transitions are required to limit global warming. This will involve
- substantial reduction in fossil fuel use,
- low or no carbon energy systems,
- widespread electrification,
- use of alternative fuels, such as hydrogen and sustainable biofuels,
- use of carbon capturing storage,
- and improved energy efficiency.
- Transitioning to a low carbon energy sector is expected to cut down international trade in fossil fuels.
- Energy efficiency and reductions in energy consumption can be achieved using digital technologies. In this way, it is also possible to decentralize the energy network. So, that power comes from multiple, localized energy networks. Electricity systems powered by renewables are becoming increasingly viable.
Demand and services
- Changes to lifestyles and behavior can reduce our carbon footprint. There is potential here to bring down global emissions by between 40-70% by 2050, but only if the necessary policies, infrastructure and technologies are in place.
- Of the 60 actions assessed on an individual level, big contributions come from switching to walking and cycling and using electrified transport, reducing air travel and adopting our houses, and moving to plant-based diets.
- Wealthier individuals have the highest potential for reductions. In some places in the world, people require additional housing, energy and resources for human wellbeing. To be effective, lifestyle changes will need to be supported by systemic changes across every aspect of society, including transport, buildings, industry and land use.
- Reducing demand is an important part in reducing emissions, and low carbon technologies are also key.
- Electric vehicles offer the greatest potential. As long as they are combined with low or zero carbon electricity sources. Advances in battery technology could assist in the electrification of trucks, and complement conventional electric rear systems. In aviation and shipping which are harder to decarbonize, alternative fuels such as low emissions hydrogen and biofuels will be needed.
- Overall, there is substantial potential for emissions reductions in the transport sector. But this depends on decarbonizing the energy supply sector.
Cities and other urban areas
- They account for more than two thirds of global emissions, if we take into account what is produced in the city and brought in from elsewhere through energy and products. There is significant potential for emissions reductions.
- In all cities, better urban planning is key. Three other broad strategies have been found to be effective: sustainable consumption and production of goods and services, electrification and Improving and improving carbon uptake and storage in cities.
- This will involve retrofitting existing buildings and using effective mitigation techniques in those that are yet to be built. This requires ambitious policy packages which may incorporate efficient design and use of space, energy, materials, appliances, as well as the use of renewables. There is an increasing number of zero energy or zero carbon buildings in almost all climates and building types.
- More can be done to reduce emissions in this sector, if renovation rates and retrofitting are improved.
- Reducing emissions in industry will involve reusing materials and energy more efficiently. Reusing and recycling products and minimizing waste. These approaches are underused in policies and industrial practice in present.
- For basic materials including steel, building materials and chemicals, low to zero greenhouse gas emission production processes are at the pilot to near commercial stage. In some cases, they are at commercial scale, but not yet established in the industrial practice.
- This sector amounts for about a quarter of global emissions. Achieving net zero will be challenging, and will require new production processes, low and zero emission electricity, hydrogen and where necessary, carbon capture and storage.
Carbon capture and storage
- To counterbalance hard to eliminate emissions, such as in agriculture, aviation, and some industrial processes, requires carbon dioxide removal. These methods remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it on land, underground, or in the ocean.
- There are biological methods that can store carbon such as reforestation and salt carbon management. These are widely practiced. New technologies such as direct air capture and storage require more research, upfront investment, and proof of concept at larger scales before they can be widely used.
- Carbon dioxide removal is essential to reach net zero. For carbon dioxide removal to work effectively, agreed methods for measuring, reporting, and very quick verification are required.
- Agriculture, forestry and other land use can provide large scale emissions reductions and remove and store carbon dioxide at scale. This can be done by protecting and restoring natural ecosystems including forests, peatlands, coastal wetlands, savannahs and the grasslands. Improved and sustainable crop and livestock management can also play a part.
- But land can only do so much in terms of removing and storing carbon, and cannot compensate for delayed emission reductions in other sectors.
Jim SKEA | IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair
How can we strengthen the response and accelerate low carbon transition?
The next few years are very critical if we want to limit warming to one and a half degrees. Here are the ways we can improve our chances of success.
Closing investment gaps
- Our assessment shows that financial flows are 3-6 times lower than levels needed by 2030 to limit warming to below 1.5 °C or 2°C.
But there is sufficient global capital and liquidity to close investment gaps. Clear signalling from governments and the international community, including a stronger alignment of public sector finance and policy is important.
- The challenge of closing gaps is actually widest for developing countries. Without taking into account the economic benefits of reduced adaptation costs or avoided climate impacts, global GDP would be a few percentage points lower in 2050 if we take the necessary actions to limit warming to 2°C or below compared to maintaining existing policies.
Policies, regulatory and economic instruments
- Regulatory and economic instruments, ranging from standards for vehicles and building codes, policies for industrial decarbonisation and broad-based carbon taxes and emission trading systems have already proven effective in reducing emissions. Such measures can be strengthened and expanded significantly.
- Policy packages and economy wide packages are better able to achieve systemic change than individual policy instruments working on their own.
- Ambitious and effective mitigation requires coordination across government, setting and implementing strategies, and building consensus among desperate stakeholders – these efforts are particularly effective when they build on engagement with civil society, indigenous peoples, professional bodies and business.
Technology and innovation
- In recent years, there’s been enormous activity and significant progress in technology and innovation. Investment in policies especially for scientific training as well as research and development push forward low emissions technological innovation.
- Key to effective decision making is assessing the potential benefits and risks of different technologies and approaches. Understanding their implementation at scale and identifying what stands in their way.
- Some options are technically viable, increasingly cost-effective and generally supported by the public and this is enabling deployment in many regions. Examples includes solar energy, energy efficient appliances, improved forest and crop management and reduced food waste. Other options face barriers that need to be addressed before they can be implemented at scale.
- The adoption of low emission technologies is slower in most developing countries, particularly least developed ones due to limited capacities.
Accelerating Climate Action and Sustainable Development
In all countries, actions to limit global warming that result in wider benefits to society can increase the pace, depth and breadth of emissions reductions, accelerated an equitable climate action in mitigating and adapting to climate change impacts is critical to sustainable development.
The report shows how mitigation goes hand in hand with achieving many of the SDGs. Equity and just transitions can lead to deeper ambition for accelerated climate action and many countries and regions are already applying just transition principles.
In our assessment we also looked at how mitigation actions can also lead to sustainable development. We have two examples:
- Urban area. In choosing between grey, and green and blue infrastructure, we see that green roofs and facades, networks of parks and open spaces, wetlands and urban agriculture not only absorb and store carbon but at the same time achieve many other SDGs. For example they can reduce pressure on urban sewer systems, reduce flood risk and deliver health benefits from reduced air pollution.
- Land use. Avoiding deforestation and sustainably managing soils, forests and livestock can also mitigate climate change. These align well with sustainable development and can also result in responsible production, improved livelihoods and food security. Potential conflicts between reducing emissions and sustainable development particularly around land use and the need to ensure access to food, water and energy can be managed with the right policies, investments and financial partnerships.
These give an insight into the wider benefits of mitigation and our report provides a very comprehensive assessment of these.
Climate change is the result of more than a century of unsustainable energy and land use and pattern of consumption and production. This report shows how taking action now can move us towards a fairer and more livable world.
We know what to do. We know how to do it and now it’s up to us to actually take action.
Emissions Gap Report and the IPCC Climate Change Report: Converging Messages
Ligia NORONHA | UN Assistant Secretary-General & Head of UNEP, New York Office
My task in this discussion today is to bring in another important report on mitigation issues – the Emissions Gap Report (EGR) that keeps reminding us every year ahead of the climate COPs that we are not doing enough of what we need to do – and its converging messages with the IPCC report.
To understand the significance of the converging messages of both reports in scope and time, it is important to recognize the similarities, the differences, objectives, and complementarity of the EGR with the IPCC report:
1 Both of them are anchored in UNEP, with the latter co-hosted by UNEP and WMO. The EGR is an annual independent science-based assessment since 2010, and the IPCC cycle is typically six years and its scope is much broader.
2 The IPCC Mitigation Report does not only assess progress made in limiting global emissions and available mitigation options, but it places mitigation in the context of sustainable development and the 2030 agenda. It also reviews the connection between short, medium and long term emission pathways.
- It assesses the social aspects of mitigation, innovation and technology, cross-sector mitigation opportunities, links and trade-offs between mitigation and adaptation and contribution to human well-being. The report this year focuses on sustainable consumption and production and circularity, and materials efficiency.
- The EGR, published annually ahead of UNFCCC COPs informs climate change negotiations about the gaps between levels of global emissions, assuming that countries fully implement their climate commitments for 2030. The levels that IPCC science tells us are consistent with the likely chance of achieving the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming at the end of a century to well below 2°C while pursuing 1.5°C.
- In short, while the IPCC tells us every six years what we need to do to get where we want to be in terms of emission levels, the EGR every year alerts us to the divergence between what should be in 2030, and where pledges bring this emission levels. This serves as a kind of a temperature gauge for the negotiations at the COPs to highlight the urgency of responses and actions.
3 The Emissions Gap Reports also investigate opportunities for bridging the emissions gap and covered a range of pertinent sectors. As the EGR specifically targets UNFCCC processes and discussions, it is tailored to bring in new international issues every year. To illustrate, the 2021 edition focused on updating and assessing new NDCs and net zero targets. The second part covered whether the COVID-19 fiscal rescue and recovery measures were used to accelerate to low carbon transition, and looked at the scope reducing methane emissions and the role of market mechanisms. This complements the recent report of the IPCC, which does not include the new NDCs submitted at COP-26 because they were submitted after its cut-off date of literature review in October 2021.
Converging messages of the two reports
1 Both reports speak to the need of urgent action and that we are not on track to limit warming to 1.5°C. The IPCC points to the average annual emissions from 2010-2019 as the highest in human history. The message of the EGR 2021 was similar. Updates to the nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement follow the trajectory of promises not yet delivered.
Globally, the richest 10% households contribute about 40% (34-45%) of global [consumption-based] GHG emissions while the bottom 50% contribute less than 15% (13-15%). The lifestyles chapter of the EGR 2020 has the same message with slightly different numbers.
It estimates the top ten contribute 48% of consumption based emissions while the bottom 50% contribute around 7%. It furthermore finds that the top 1% of income earners account for more than twice the combined share of the poorest 50%. Compliance with 1.5°C will require reducing emissions of consumption emissions to per capita lifestyle footprint of around 2 to 2.5 times carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030.
Both reports reflect on COVID-19: emissions of CO2 from fossil fuels and industry dropped temporarily in the first half of 2020 due to responses to the pandemic but rebounded by the end of the year. The EGR speaks about the missed opportunity to use COVID-19 fiscal rescue and recovery spending to stimulate the economy while fostering a low carbon transformation in most countries so far.
2 There is increased evidence of climate action, with the cost of alternatives having fallen, and enhanced climate supportive policies evident in many countries. However, both reports say that without strengthening these policies that have been implemented by the end of 2020, greenhouse gas emissions are projected to rise beyond 2025, leading to average global warming of 3.2°C.
3 Both see low-hanging fruit in mitigation options available now in all sectors. We have heard the ability of having emissions by 2030 in energy, buildings, transport, industry, agriculture and landing, and of digital technology, decentralized energy systems to take this forward. The EGR 2017 provided an updated assessment of sectoral emission reduction potentials by 2030. It has also consistently found that 2030 reduction potentials are sufficient to bridge the 2030 gap, provided they are exploited fully and importantly immediately.
4 Both reports see the next few years to be critical and collective action to be very important to success. The IPCC report speaks
- to actions that have multiple benefits to society as accelerating emission reductions because it has traction amongst a far larger group of people and therefore more easy to observe,
- to scaling finance,
- to whole of government and multi stakeholder approaches,
- to enhance coordination,
- to the use of policy instruments for system wide changes rather than discrete policy instruments that do not have the same impact,
- to low emission technology cooperation.
We heard Sebastian link the climate agenda to various other agendas because if it does so, it has a stronger impact on the kind of benefits and the kind of policies that can be brought to bear. The EGRs have all been aligned to this and have included a number of focus chapters over the years have touched on these aspects:
- The 2018 report includes chapters on the opportunities for strengthening nationally determined contributions (NDCs) and domestic policies, fiscal reforms for low carbon transition and the role of innovation and markets.
- The 2019 report has chapters in enhancing mitigation ambition and action at the G20 level and global transformations towards zero carbon development pathways with a strong focus on core benefits and achievement of the SDGs.
5 Both agreed that unless there are immediate and deep GHG emissions reductions across all sectors, 1.5°C is beyond reach. This was already presented by previous speakers.
6 Accelerated climate action is key to ensure the 2030 agenda. The transition to sustainability requires solutions to fundamental distribution issues: this is a key message from these reports. They need to be thought of very carefully to ensure that we have a just and fair transition.
- Both reports speak to the need of urgency of mitigation actions, as time is running out to meet the Paris goals. Both speak to distribution aspect of the emissions.
- They speak to the possibility of significant reductions by 2030 as prices of renewables have fallen drastically and technologies are available but we need to act now.
- They speak to key economic sectors which present low hanging options, the need for scaling finance, and the importance of time being critical but also the need for system wide changes given the multiple goals that climate agendas speak to.
Business Accelerating Climate Action
María MENDILUCE | Chief Executive Officer, We Mean Business
Today’s intervention will focus on what the latest IPCC Report means for the business sector. There are five key messages to keep in mind.
1. We do not have time to lose.
Our planet is already in intensive care and we must not waste time. Achieving the 1.5° target will be very hard, therefore all solutions and all incentives must be put into action.
To act fast, carbon pricing is necessary along with phasing out some energy sources and materials. Regulations must be established to curb energy and carbon-intensive materials. Considering that the effects of climate change are somehow already visible and felt in the lives of the most vulnerable people, adaption must be boosted and the risk of climate change to all lives must be further studied to anticipate their effects. With the current geopolitical situation, we are observing the effects on the global supply chains in terms of energy prices, inflation, and this is going to also happen when climate change hits harder.
2. Businesses are committed.
We Mean Business created the science-based target initiative in Paris to show companies how to be aligned with Paris on a voluntary basis. There are 2700 large companies, coming from all sectors, that have committed to its science-based targets aligned with Paris.
We Mean Business has created the SME Climate Hub, an initiative to also invite SMEs to be aligned with Paris, to which 4,000 companies have committed to. In total, we are close to 7,000 companies being committed to the Paris Agreement, but there are 45 million companies out there.
This opens the question of how we are going to move from the thousands to the millions. We need to start disclosing. We need companies to start measuring and reporting their emissions because what gets measured gets managed, and what gets managed provides benefits for the Profit and Loss (P&L).
An example of this, also related to carbon prices, are cement companies. For many years they considered meeting the Paris Agreement impossible. When the European Union introduced them in the emission trading system, cement companies realized that by giving a cost to carbon and starting to measure emissions they could reduce emissions to the benefit of their businesses. To the point that now, the largest cement companies have committed to net zero and are advocating for the introduction of the sector in carbon-pricing schemes around the world since it is good for business allows being more efficient.
3. We need to move from the thousands of businesses committed to the millions.
Thanks to Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) launched at COP26, many investors and the banking industry are coming finally committed to net zero. They must align their portfolios and they lend to many businesses and by doing this, they will provide another push for companies and corporates to be aligned with 1.5° Target.
Nonetheless, corporate leadership is required. When you commit to net zero, you also need to reduce your supply chain emission and providers need help to be aligned with Paris. This also entails working with trade groups so that they are also aligned with the Paris Agreement.
Finally, we must encourage SMEs to commit to net zero through the SME Climate Hub for instance. Through it, they can have access to a calculator that allows them to measure their emissions, education tools that allows them to discover where to reduce emissions and different activities that will help them in their journey to net-zero. SMEs are a very important part of our economic tissue and employ millions of people, thus, if SMEs do not commit to net zero, the achievement of the goal will be practically impossible. Net zero is good for them, but if there are not made aware of it and given the resources and means to do it, they will not.
4. Businesses must apply the four As.
We Mean Business is a coalition formed in 2014 to bring the progressive voice of business to the climate negotiations and action. We work with seven core partners, big business organizations, and 50 implementation partners. The framework of action of what these 7,000 business network partners have to is called the “Four As Framework”.
- Partners need to be Ambitious and commit to setting ambitious climate science-based targets.
- Partners have to take Action. There are lots of activities companies can do in their own operations and within the supply chain. We support many initiatives that accelerate through our funding like RE100, committed to 100% renewables, the Mission Possible Partnership developing roadmaps for the sectors and many more. Action is what we must focus on.
- Partners need to conduct Advocacy. We must be aligned in the message we give to policymakers around what we need as business to accelerate the transition to net zero. The first step in this direction was the G20 Letter produced last year and to which 800 companies are committing to. The first task in the letter is keeping the 1.5° target alive and the second is phasing out coal in all countries. We need to start stressing the dates: 2030 for developed countries and 2040 for developing countries to avoid people complaining in the future as they are made aware that investing now in coal means having stranded assets in the future.
- Partners are committed to Accountability. Regulations are in place in order to show progress.
5. We need to accelerate the transition.
The COVID-19 Pandemic and the current conflict in Ukraine demonstrate that the transition to renewable energy makes a lot of sense. It brings more jobs; more energy security and it is available all over the world. It is commercially attractive and everybody understands this.
Still, it is not scaling up. There is a lot of red tape that must be removed. Setting up the infrastructure for renewable energies is not very complicated to put in place, but it must face a lot of administrative obstacles that must be removed.
- The first thing necessary to accelerate the transition is carbon pricing. We need a signal to the market.
- Secondly, we need to look at the design of products and services from a circular economy perspective. The use of materials must be reduced because those materials have energy embedded in them and consequently produce carbon emissions.
- Thirdly, we need to focus on phasing out. For example, IKEA stopped selling batteries and now only sells rechargeable batteries. Examples like this one can be also led by regulation. To phase out many of the energy-intensive activities, hydrogen will be needed, therefore governments must invest in it.
Carbon removals and incentives to companies to invest in nature are needed as well, but only in addition to decarbonization and not as a replacement. Residual average emissions for these sectors, according to the Science-Based Targets (SBTi) should be at the minimum around 10%. It is important to note that it will be impossible to transition to renewable energy and electric vehicles without the supporting infrastructure. The grid is going to require massive investments for this decentralized energy system. Again, public government and businesses must interact with policymakers to make this energy transition equitable, allowing the most vulnerable to have access to those solutions and not to be left behind.
There is a lot to do. What is ahead of us reminds a marathon. In marathons, there are certain milestones. The first ten kilometres is when the performance is at its best as the runner has more energy. We currently are at the first ten kilometres milestone, and we need to do much better than in the last one to have emissions cut by 2030.
For this very reason, We Mean Business launched a campaign called All in for 2030. All in because we need must give it all in during the next 10 years, and all in because all sectors and all people are necessary to do it. We need all these concentrated efforts to achieve this incredible acceleration in the first ten kilometres of the marathon, the most important ones.
Civil Society Engagement – An IPCC Observer Perspective on Key Messages and Issues Arising from the WGIII Report
Lindsey FIELDER COOK | Representative for Climate Change, Quaker United Nations Office
Civil society is engaged on how to better integrate human rights-based approaches in mitigation policy for a more coherent, sustainable and legitimate climate policy. We uphold environmental defenders who risk their lives daily to defend the environment worldwide and all those people involved in climate action.
The IPCC is a remarkable piece that protects the integrity of science and thanks to which climate negotiators will not be able to push something that can compromise the integrity of science. In some ways, IPCC is like a lawyer for nature: it tells us what is at stake. More specifically, mitigation is the most grueling and political of the approval processes because we are mitigating the root causes of climate change, which often make a few people a lot of money, being fossil fuels or industrial agriculture, deforestation or our unsustainable economic systems and consumption.
The WGIII Report brings major advantages compared to previous editions. Sustainable development goals, the Paris Agreement 1.5° Target, the special reports from the IPCC on what it means to hold temperature limits to 1.5°, the land report telling us what we do urgently now will keep land from becoming a source of climate degradation are all there.
Another strong point of the report is the great diversity of input. There is a real attempt for more social sciences and focus on economic growth and consumption emissions, thanks also to the vocality of the Climate Action Network (CAN) International and the European Union. The report puts us in front of the fact that emissions in 2019 were 54% higher than in 1990 and that the chance for a 1. 5° limit without overshoot, which will cause loss of lives, livelihoods, and species. So maintaining the temperature to 1.5° is critical and the report claims we must peak emissions model pathways that limit global warming by 2025 at the latest. The report also warns us that, globally, 10% of households with the highest per capita emissions contribute up to 45% of global consumption-based household emissions and that the bottom 50% contribute between 13-15%.
On the technical side of this Report, the optimistic message is that renewable energies are up and running. Renewable energies, the implementation of solar energy, wind, and even lithium-based batteries not only have decreased in cost, but they have expanded much more dramatically than expected.
Since the decisions taken at COP26, the fact of having called for a phase-down of coal but not of oil and gas has been a concern. As civil society, the things we deem most relevant in this report is indeed the call to address and transform root causes, root causes being fossil fuels. When we see calls for carbon capture storage, we must bear in mind that carbon capture storage is not yet available to scale, and neither is the technology that is needed.
It is necessary to transform and reduce the use of fossil fuels rather than believing that technical fixes will allow us to continue using fossil fuels because they are lucrative. So, we have the challenges of money and power. Carbon dioxide removal addresses symptoms with technical fixes but does not actually transform the drivers of climate change, so we appreciate the report for highlighting this aspect. The pushes for such solutions come from money and power, but we must be engaging in a whole-of-society dialogue to avoid maintaining these drivers.
Indeed, the other optimistic side of renewable energies is their decentralisation, the empowerment of people to own their energy sources. This is critical for buy-in. Again, the IPCC Report is not only useful to stress the role of finance, but also of public financing grants and for showing how much can be saved by not needing the adaptation and rather saving suffering lives and avoiding ecosystem collapse.
Another notable aspect of the Report is the focus on sustainable agriculture. The discussions on how to include diet in the report were difficult as it is almost politically impossible to talk about reducing meat and dairy. But it was possible to talk about plant-based, although it was in a footnote. Sustainable diets have the mitigation potential of reducing the impact of our diets and this is empowering for people.
In this Report, the Working Group II was remarkable in bringing in rights-based approaches to climate justice and participation. Hope that WGIII will integrate this further into the Synthesis Report is high.
Having a human rights-based approach means integrating human rights, indigenous people’s rights, gender, public participation, just transition, youth, protecting biodiversity and food security in climate policy. WGIII really worked on just transition and we are thankful for what they did, but just transition is primarily about jobs and industry and the rights-based approach comes in a second moment.
If you want people to support this and for them to feel their voices are heard, they must be part of and perceive the benefit of climate action so there is no push back. Climate action needs to be grounded in respecting people and fostering meaningful participation.
Finally, this Report successfully included the language of climate justice, strengthened mentions and references to equity both internationally and within communities and meaningful participation. The Report also discusses gender equality, indigenous peoples and local communities, land use and land use rights which are critical, especially in mitigation issues.
In conclusion, while we are phasing an existential crisis, we need that optimism to hold to a liveable environment. While our governments may not feel very revolutionary, we must be revolutionary and transform the root causes of climate change together.
Q to Jim SKEA: Even though the IPCC’s report is not economic, it still is important to look at the question of GDP and employment creation in terms of induced effects of workers in new industries and effects on GDP growth as well. Was there a political discussion in the drawing of these conclusions or was it is based on just a simple review of papers?
It was surprising to hear that the GDP will be only slightly negatively impacted. That has a huge implication because as we have seen from the financial crisis up to the COVID pandemic recovery, governments are still interested in GDP growth. At the ILO we use so-called structure simulation models as compared to general equilibrium models and that may be the reason for such difference in the results for prospects. A general equilibrium model keeps the structure of the economy going, as if you had a combustion engine car you just keep running it believing it is at the perfect stage of efficiency. A structure simulation model looks into an investment as an electric car which does not exist yet. The structure simulation models the structure of an economy that is not really existing and so what you find is that an initial investment may be a little bit higher because electric cars new turning points are not there, but in the long term the return on investment is much higher because you engage in a structured change which is a normal process in economics.
Jim SKEA: These numbers did not take account of the economic benefits of avoided impacts. Indeed, the Report refers to other indicators such as wellbeing that could supplement simple measures of GDP.
Q: The picture put together by this Report is not a very positive one. To what extent does this Report address the question of going net-negative?
There are a lot of discussions about net zero but we know that at some point, the world has to go to net-negative. In fact, some people are talking from a justice angle that some countries should start already to go net-negative now to give more space to others to develop. Is there something specific that is addressed in this report about turning net-negative or is the report discussing only net zero targets?
Jim SKEA: The report discusses net-negative in a part titled “Life Beyond Net Zero”. But to achieve net-negative results, one must rely on carbon dioxide removal.
María MENDILUCE: We are quite far from being net-negative. There has been a lot of controversy about investments in nature that have not helped improve climate change. The business sector needs very clear guidance on where to invest and how to invest in these things. If we want to get beyond net zero, we need to start to think now about how to do it, but we need to be realistic about it and the timing necessary to achieve it.
Q: We must not forget adaptation needs and the issue of loss and damage. Impacts are already felt and that means we should not only think about the marathon but already start running quite quickly on certain issues.
Especially on those related to the humanitarian side and the immediate consequences we already see out there. We should have a discussion around mitigation, adaptation loss and damage and bring these two action areas together. We need to work on all fronts.
Jim SKEA: The overall messages of the three Working Groups Reports differ from one another. WG I and II Reports have direr messages while WGIII is not about optimism versus pessimism. It is about fatalism versus human agency. The message that we wished to convey is that human beings got us into this mess, and we can make a difference and begin to at least start to address the situation we find ourselves in.
Comment from audience: The report comes after COP26 where commitments to phase-down of coal and inefficient fossil fuels were made, but the Glasgow Pact talks about it in terms of a just transition. There are different understandings of what the just transition means.
At the International Labour Office, we are concerned that some may use this notion of a just transition as a sort of an excuse slowed down action and ambition. On the contrary, the IPCC Report describes the just transition as an enabler of higher ambition on mitigation, which is in line with the ILO’s approach. It is critical to get the narrative on the just transition right. We need higher ambition on climate action but together with the right social labour market policies that makes sure that no one is left behind and we must not use it as an excuse for inaction.
Q: Was any review done on impacts of engineered storage of the carbon into soil? Has the committee reviewed how carbon captured in carbon capture and storage can be used for new products such as chemicals, aggregates? Has the impact of these been reviewed?
Jim SKEA: The report covers carbon cut and utilisation as well as carbon capture and storage. It is covered in there. It is nonetheless important to note that the technical potential for carbon capture and utilisation is limited because there are only so many products in which the technology can be embedded.
Q: The potential dynamic of civil society’s role in driving change and transition towards a low-carbon paradigm, specifically through community engagement, seems to be inadequately stressed. This bottom-up dynamic can greatly catalyse policy implementation and capacity building within public & private sectors for delivery of required societal changes. Can this be better stressed in the synthesis report?
Jim SKEA: In terms of community engagement, we thought we had done a little bit better on that because the report includes chapters on policy, on demand side and consumers, and a sustainable development chapter, which did address community engagement.
Q: How can small business be better included in the next COP?
Maria MENDILUCE: SMEs do not have the resources to go to COP. They do not even have the knowledge to understand what is going on at COP, but through the SME Climate Hub, we are going to make sure that they are present at COP through the digital means so that they can learn.
Q: What about climate adaptation measures are seen to be science-based on a national and subnational level? Are there any specific recommendations for cities?
Q: The Report is very long and complex and it is very clear that the major changes in lifestyles are necessary. What is the strategy for communication to the public?
Talking to people, they seem not aware of the type of changes that are required. What seems to be lacking is communication that stakeholders, meaning the majority of humanity who are will be affected but who are not aware of this. The report is technical and hard to read for those who are not experts, but maybe this issue can be overcome in the synthesis report. It is key to direct a targeted communication to every single individual on earth who is a stakeholder to achieve the goals which this report presents.
Jim SKEA: Communication strategy is important. We do not expect the individual chapters to be picked up and read avidly by members of the public as this report is not an airport bookshop kind of material. What we do spend a lot of time thinking about is derivative material that comes off the reports whose primary audience is governments, to make them more communicable to wider audiences. Many outreach events aiming to put the messages in a plainer way are organized along with consistent engagement with the press. For instance, when the Land Report came out, I recall going on programmes on the radio in the UK, which is intended for people listening to things on their car radios on the way home from work. We certainly have been able to try to get some of these issues over and explain them in a non-technical way to wider audiences.
Maria MENDILUCE: Unfortunately the climate space is full of people really smart, with very complicated models and thinking. And sometimes we have failed to break the messages more simply to the general public. We must work on this as we need everybody to come along.
Lindsey FIELDER COOK: The synthesis report hopefully will integrate more the works of WGII and WGIII. WGIII really brought in more than what was present in the Fifth Assessment Report, but it is necessary also to bring in those messages together for adaptation and mitigation. The messages of how to integrate, involve and grant benefits to people can come through the Synthesis Report, but then how do we communicate them? IPCC is very small, and it needs the input of people to have their scientific findings turned into action. If people do not see the benefits of implementing such transformational changes, they will step back. Communication and information are needed for the accountability of governments for what they could and can do. And for people to take responsibility by acting and pushing governments to do act.
Q to Maria MENDILUCE: Sustainable fuels that should be implemented within the next years and decades to allow to abandon fossil fuels pose challenges for the infrastructure of the transport systems. From a long-term perspective, do you think there will be multilateral treaties to implement these infrastructures or how will the issue be confronted?
When it comes to hydrogen, for example, LDCs will face greater challenges to implement the infrastructure with new fuels and incentivize transport industries to implement these technologies.
Maria MENDILUCE: We Mean Business is part of an initiative called Mission Possible Partnership that is proven that it is possible to reduce emissions in the more-hard-to-avoid sectors, which includes aviation.
Dina IONESCO: Since the previous IPCC Assessment Report in 2014, we have walked a long road. This last Reports evidences the efforts to bring in the human side of the environment, successfully connecting the human and social dimensions to scientific data.
Maria MENDILUCE: The 1.5° mission is possible, but it is a mission that we need to accelerate and which requires scientist, governments, business, civil society to be aligned in going faster.
Sebastian KÖNIG: From a government perspective, the IPCC is policy relevant and not policies prescriptive. In that sense, the IPCC has given us a menu of options that are doable in terms of their potential and their cost. We have an optimistic situation where I can take this list of options to my Minister and say this is what we can do to take action.
Lindsey FIELDER COOK: Urgent, healthy, and fair transformations. This is the historic time for us to act. We cannot leave our children with an unhealthy environment, with reliance on geoengineering. We can do it now but we all have to be part of this and we have to protect human rights and indigenous people’s rights in that.
Jim SKEA: “It is now or never if we want t to limit warming to 1.5°. Whatever level of ambition we have, it is very important that action is taken now, otherwise we will be closing down our options.” From the IPCC Press Release
- Working Group III Contribution to AR6 – Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change
- Presentation | IPCC WGIII Report Launch – Press Conference | 4 April 2022
- Emissions Gap Report 2021 | UNEP & UNEP Copenhagen Climate Center | 26 October 2021
- Presentation made during the event | GEN & IPCC | 8 April 2022
- Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
- 56th Session of the IPCC (IPCC-56) and 14th Session of Working Group III (WGIII-14) | Earth Negotiations Bulletin | 21 March – 4 April 2022
- How Big Businesses Can Help Their Suppliers Cut Emissions | Maria Mendiluce, Johan Falk, and Kristian Rönn | Harvard Business Review | 8 April 2022
- COP26-COP27 Briefing on the IPCC Climate Change 2022 Report: Impacts, Adaptation & Vulnerability | Geneva Environment Network | 7 March 2022