The world’s biggest peer review report on climate change is expected to be the most controversial and political of recent times
On Monday, the International Panel on Climate Change, the world’s foremost scientific body on climate change, is set to give a verdict that can have huge ramifications for the world. It will tell governments what we know about climate change and also how much governments are failing to live up to the goals set in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
In 2014, IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report gave the most emphatic warning on global warming and provided the scientific underpinning for the Paris Agreement.
Here are three things to help you understand the upcoming report and IPCC in general:
- What the report is about
A panel of the United Nations, IPCC is supposed to give neutral and scientific updates about the global warming, impacts and mitigation actions. The intergovernmental body has 195 nation members and is based in Geneva. Thousands of experts from health, climate science, and economists volunteer to prepare its reports.
The upcoming report is part of the Talanoa Dialogue, in which parties to the Paris Agreement consider the gap between aims and implementation. It will be held in December at an annual United Nations climate meeting in Katowice, Poland.
Experts believe that it is an enormous challenge to keep warming below a threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius. Yet, global warming is already set to breach the lower limit for warming of 1.5 degrees, says a leaked version of the draft report. Although geo-physically possible, this would require drastic and rapid reductions in Green House Gas (GHG) emissions by governments. A sharp shift from fossil fuels as well as removal of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere is needed. Under current trajectories, where temperature increase is already hovering just over 1 degree Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels, the 1.5 degree target wll be breached in the 2040s, even before the middle of the century.
- American interference
For almost a week, discussions have being held at Incheon, Republic of South Korea but were seen to be politicized. The IPCC concludes three reviews (global warming, climate change impacts and tackling related problems) with a crucial Summary for Policymakers. If governments want, they can seek amendments to the summary. The leaked draft of comments from governments shows that the US is trying to misinterpret facts and push domestic (anti) climate change policies. It questions the science and methodologies used to present impacts at 1.5 °C, and says that there are way too many challenges and uncertainties involved. America's comments not only dominate the draft but also dilute the objective of the IPCC’s Report and Summary for Policymakers, which is to help policymakers understand the implications of warmer world and scale up ambition to devise sound and effective climate policies.
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