The third part of the IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report has been published and the response to it varies widely. The BBC speaks of a “now or never moment.” The problem with such terms is that they unfortunately wear out very quickly because they are again more or less deadlines. The BBC assumes that mankind has a maximum of 3 years left to turn the tide..
“But keeping temperatures down will require massive changes to energy production, industry, transport, our consumption patterns and the way we treat nature.
To stay under 1.5C, according to the IPCC, means that carbon emissions from everything that we do, buy, use or eat must peak by 2025, and tumble rapidly after that, reaching net-zero by the middle of this century.
To put it in context, the amount of CO2 that the world has emitted in the last decade is the same amount that’s left to us to stay under this key temperature threshold.
„I think the report tells us that we’ve reached the now-or-never point of limiting warming to 1.5C,“ said IPCC lead author Heleen De Coninck, who’s Professor of Socio-Technical Innovation and Climate Change at Eindhoven University of Technology.
Speaking to BBC News she said: „We have to peak our greenhouse gas emissions before 2025 and after that, reduce them very rapidly.
„And we will have to do negative emissions or carbon dioxide removal in the second half of the century, shortly after 2050, in order to limit warming to 1.5C.“”
Meanwhile Germany weekly Zeit also covers the report, but with somewhat less drama than the BBC. After all, Zeit also discusses measures that are either hardly used or even banned in Germany, such as carbon capture.
Because it can’t be completely implemented that way, all future unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions must be offset by pulling them back out of the atmosphere. How can that be done? Through reforestation and other natural approaches, for example, but their effectiveness is shrinking as climate change progresses. Or mankind is turning to technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) – the injection and storage of carbon in reservoirs. However, these methods are controversial and so far do not work adequately.”
Axel Bojanowski of Die Welt seems far less pessimistic. He also addresses the issue of carbon capture in a factual article.
Negative emissions could capture up to 12 complete annual rations of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2100, the climate report says. Dumping CO2 underground (CCS, carbon capture and storage) could make it possible to use fossil energy sources ‘for longer,’ the IPCC writes. However, the process is met with massive resistance, especially in Germany, and was therefore stopped, which the IPCC indirectly criticizes: The use of CCS worldwide is ‘far below the pathway for the two-degree target.’ Policy instruments could reduce the barriers, the IPCC writes.”
In an opinion piece (paywall article), Bojanowski writes about conflicting goals, among other things.
At the same time, the UN has set 16 other human goals in addition to limiting warming, such as overcoming hunger and poverty, improving education and health, and ensuring the availability of cheap energy. Above all, the IPCC recognizes opportunities for synergies with the other human goals. But why is the push for fossil fuels still so strong, especially in poor countries, when, according to the IPCC, there are almost only benefits to turning away from coal, oil and gas?”