IPCC report demands climate action now
On April 4th, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, published the third part of its comprehensive review of climate science. Inside, it argues that stabilising the climate will require fast action and emissions must peak by 2025 for the world to have a chance of meeting the goals agreed in Paris. Here to tell us more is environmental scientist Jo House, from the University of Bristol...
Jo - This report looks specifically at climate action, what we can do and in fact what needs to happen in order for us to limit the worst of climate change. It finds that we really need to much more rapidly look at bringing down greenhouse gas emissions. They need to peak by 2025 and to be reduced by about half by 2030 if we are going to keep warming to less than 1.5 degrees and definitely within 2 degrees.
Chris - This sounds like we are running over the same old ground again, though.
Jo - As someone who has been a climate scientist for 30 years, we've been saying this for a long time, but what we are seeing now with this series of reports that have come out is that the science is really clear. Climate change is anthropogenic. The report that came out about a month ago was about the severe impacts that are already being experienced throughout the world, and that will only get worse. This one is making it clear that the window is now very limited to be able to take the action we need to limit to 1.5 or 2 degrees.
Chris - Is it going to basically take the crisis happening for people to take note? We just seem to have been receiving these warnings year after year that this is going to happen, and it's a bit like speed cameras on the motorway, people disregard the speed limit until they get a ticket. At what point are we going to give the world a ticket and finally something's going to change because we seem to pretty much be going business as usual? I haven't noticed my lifestyle change.
Jo - It is really, incredibly frustrating, but there are some things in the report that give me hope, which is there's about 18 countries in the world that have actually already peaked their emissions and have managed to keep reducing year on year. It hasn't cost them a lot in terms of GDP; they have been able to do it in an affordable way.
Chris - It is easier for some countries to do this. If you live in a country where the sun shines 24/7 - I'm being facetious of course - but take California: every day, it's a sunny day. Putting solar panels over enormous amounts of space you have at your disposal means you have enormous opportunities to produce a lot of guaranteed energy. If you live in the UK, the sun doesn't shine half the time, the wind doesn't blow half the time. It's a very different problem that you are grappling with, isn't it?
Jo - Well, actually, in the UK, we have managed to reduce our emissions a lot by switching from burning coal to burning gas. That's been a big move for us. And there's plenty of countries that have a lot of wind energy, as well as solar, and the cost of the renewable technologies has dropped massively - solar energy costs have dropped by 85%. And now, we are getting more technology with batteries moving forward, so we can store some of that renewable energy. Surprisingly, it's actually sometimes some of the poorer countries that are actually doing the most because they are feeling the impact and they know how important this is.
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