Climate Change

Countries negotiate key messages of IPCC’s controversial ‘Special Report’ 

Parties are negotiating the text of Summary for Policy Makers, which is a condensed version of the key messages and findings of the main report

By Vijeta Rattani
Published: Tuesday 02 October 2018
Credit: UNFCCC

Expected to be the most controversial and political in the recent times, the IPCC’s (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Special Report on 1.5°C, which is compiled by 91 authors and review editors along with 133 contributing authors, is due for release on October 8 in South Korea. From October 1, Parties have been negotiating the Summary for Policy Makers (SPM), which is a condensed version of the key messages and findings of the main report. The discussion will continue till October 5.

The leaked draft of the June 2018 version of the SPM is a matter of concerns. While the January 2018 version was more stark and elaborate in presenting the findings of the impacts at 1.5°C rise, the June version is more watered down in its tone and content when it comes to dealing with the big picture. References to specific regions, tropical cyclones, heatwaves, climate-induced displacement, and risk to food production with regard to the effects of warming at 1.5°C have been omitted in the June version of the SPM. Both versions, however, give a grim warning that the world even at 1.5°C is not safe and given the present rate of carbon emissions, we will reach 1.5°C by 2040 itself. 

The SPM serves as the climate guide for the countries to formulate their policies. Therefore, the governments must ensure that scientific integrity is maintained and key information is not omitted to suit the interest of economies such as the US, Australia and the countries in the Middle East with powerful fossil fuel companies. In no way should the language be altered that gives developed countries the leeway to continue with their business-as-usual approach, and put further onus on the developing countries to address climate change. Developing countries must hold their ground on this crucial report. 

When the makers of Paris Agreement agreed to put 1.5°C as the temperature goal of the Agreement, there was little understanding on what the world would be like if warming touches 1.5°C by the end of the century. The Parties had felt the need for a special report on assessing the impacts of 1.5°C of warming and exploring possible solutions to limit it and hence, requested the IPCC to prepare such a report.

Formed in 1988, IPCC is the foremost scientific body feeding scientific information on climate change to the UNFCCC processes. Over the years, IPCC, through its successive Assessment Reports, have warned us about the implications of climate change at present and in the future. Every year, the global community battles extreme weather events in the form of floods, droughts, unseasonal rains, heat waves, and wildfires that vindicates the scientific warnings. Even though IPCC is a scientific body, it is often the governments that water down the information in the reports to suit their economic interests and especially, to protect the fossil fuel lobby. 

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