The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) under the aegis of the UN published its summary report on March 20, 2023 summarizing eight years of work, initiated in 2015. The report, written by hundreds of scientists, was endorsed by government delegations at a meeting in Interlaken, Switzerland.
Despite the scientific consensus, it must be said that there are some climatosceptics who have not been convinced. THE process having been slowed down by a disagreement between the rich countries and the developing countries on the objectives of emissions and the financial assistance to the vulnerable nations. Also the end of the meeting has been postponed several times, the delegates of certain major nations, such as China, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, the United States and the European Union, having negotiated all weekend on the formulation of the key phrases of the text.
The IPCC report summarizes extensive research on global warming compiled since the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on delegates to provide “hard, hard facts” to state clearly that there is little time left for the world to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial times when average global temperatures have already increased by 1.1°C since the 19e century.
Guterres insisted that the target limit of 1.5°C remains possible “with rapid and deep emission reductions in all sectors of the global economy“. The report also indicates that the period 1970-2020 has seen the temperature recorded on Earth increase in a proportion not seen for at least 2000 years, and that 42% of greenhouse gases emitted since 1850 have been emitted since 1990. a bitter observation ensues: global warming is already here, and it is accelerating.
Delegates struggled to agree on numbers that will determine how much greenhouse gas emissions will need to be reduced over the next few years to meet the 1.5°C target. As the country that has released the greatest amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since industrialization, the United States has refuted the notion of historical responsibility for climate change.
The thorny issue was to define which nations should be considered vulnerable developing countries in order to make them eligible to receive sums from a “loss and damage” fund agreed at he 27th United Nations Climate Conference (COP 27) which took place in Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt.
There was also the question of the possibility of reconciling the development of the countries of the South and the fight against climate change. This widespread idea, the report has, so to speak, demolished. “Empirical studies show that the fight against climate change does not run counter to development policies, quite the contrary”explained Yamina Saheb, co-author of this summary report, specialist in energy issues.
The IPCC relied for this on the indicator of “decent standard of living” which includes housing, food, clothing, health, education and mobility needs. By implementing public transport and a cycling policy to reduce emissions, for example, it is possible to improve air quality, health, create new job opportunities, etc.
In conclusion, Antonio Guterres called on rich countries to advance their carbon neutrality objectives as soon as possible, towards “2040”against 2050 for “defuse the climate bomb”. The authors of the report also underline the crucial need for financing in the transition. The findings and numerical estimates of this report are important for research and public debate. In particular, they will serve as a scientific basis for discussion at the next climate negotiations, including COP28, which will be held at the end of the year in Dubai.