2018 IPCC Report Preliminary Summary

In South Korea and in Poland the upcoming IPCC events referred to in this article will take place before the end of 2018.

As the IPCC’s next comprehensive assessment of climate science will not be available until 2021, this year’s report will be vital in shaping policy.

The IPCC Report restricts itself to climate change but also suggests the economic benefits of creating ‘green’ jobs that contribute to a desirable form of economic growth. There is a danger that the now widespread focus on climate change leads to other threats to a sustainable future being overlooked or down-played, in particular the continuing increase in human passengers on Spaceship Earth being added at an estimated rate of 228000 per day – one billion in the next 14 years

The preliminary IPPC findings contained in the forthcoming report are summarised and commented upon here in this Guardian article. The central point is that 1.5C warming should now be the maximum target for restraining global warming, not 2C.

“Johan Rockström, a co-author of the recent Hothouse Earth report, said scientists never previously discussed 1.5C, which was initially seen as a political concession to small island states. But he said opinion had shifted in the past few years along with growing evidence of climate instability and the approach of tipping points that might push the world off a course that could be controlled by emissions reductions.

“Climate change is occurring earlier and more rapidly than expected. Even at the current level of 1C warming, it is painful,” he told the Guardian. “This report is really important. It has a scientific robustness that shows 1.5C is not just a political concession. There is a growing recognition that 2C is dangerous.”

“Time and carbon budgets are running out. By mid-century, a shift to the lower goal would require a supercharged roll-back of emissions sources that have built up over the past 250 years.

The IPCC maps out four pathways to achieve 1.5C, with different combinations of land use and technological change. Reforestation is essential to all of them as are shifts to electric transport systems and greater adoption of carbon capture technology.

Carbon pollution would have to be cut by 45% by 2030 – compared with a 20% cut under the 2C pathway – and come down to zero by 2050, compared with 2075 for 2C. This would require carbon prices that are three to four times higher than for a 2C target. But the costs of doing nothing would be far higher.

“We have presented governments with pretty hard choices. We have pointed out the enormous benefits of keeping to 1.5C, and also the unprecedented shift in energy systems and transport that would be needed to achieve that,” said Jim Skea, a co-chair of the working group on mitigation. “We show it can be done within laws of physics and chemistry. Then the final tick box is political will. We cannot answer that. Only our audience can – and that is the governments that receive it.”

“even pro-Paris deal nations involved in fossil fuel extraction that runs against the spirit of their commitments. Britain is pushing ahead with gas fracking, Norway with oil exploration in the Arctic, and the German government wants to tear down Hambach forest to dig for coal.

At the current level of commitments, the world is on course for a disastrous 3C of warming.

Here is the BBC website account of the summary of the IPCC Report.

From the Washington Post 

A further BBC website article with dramatic dynamic graphics contains David Shukman’s analysis of the IPCC findings:

Analysis by David Shukman, BBC science editor

The countdown to the worst of global warming seems to have accelerated. Seriously damaging impacts are no longer on a distant horizon later this century but within a timeframe that appears uncomfortably close.

By the same token, the report’s “pathways” for keeping a lid on temperatures all mean that hard decisions cannot be delayed:

  • a shift away from fossil fuels by mid-century
  • coal phased out far sooner than previously suggested
  • vast tracts of land given over to forests

It’s mind-bending stuff and some will say it’s hopelessly unrealistic, a climate scientists’ fantasy. So is any of it plausible? On the one hand, the global economy relies on carbon and key activities depend on it. On the other, wind turbines and solar panels have tumbled in price and more and more countries and states such as California are setting ambitious green targets.

Ultimately, politicians will face a difficult choice: persuade their voters that the revolutionary change outlined in the report is urgently needed or ignore it and say the scientists have got it wrong.

Link to the IPCC Report summary

New York Times Editorial “Coal is Killing the Planet”

Guardian opinion piece –  “A Global Emergency”

Monbiot on climate BREAKDOWN (not ‘CHANGE’)

1.5C = ‘pipe dream’ vs. Figueres optimism

FROM Jeremy Williams – “Lots of good climate change articles this week following the IPCC special report on 1.5 degrees.

Bill McKibben Review in NY Books of IPCCReport

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