UN experts tear down the “empty” promises of governments on the environmental issue and claim that disasters can be avoided.
The third part of the scientific trilogy of UN climate experts (IPCC) published on Monday leaves no room for doubt: without a “rapid, radical and most often immediate” reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors, it will not be possible to limit warming to +1.5°C compared to the pre-industrial era, or even to +2°C. But the States that have nevertheless committed to it by signing the Paris agreement are not yet up to the challenge, while a warming of + 1.1°C already makes “very vulnerable” half of humanity, hit by increasing heat waves, droughts, storms and floods.
“Some governments and business leaders say one thing and do another. To put it simply, they are lying”, denounced the Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres , describing this new IPCC report on solutions to limit global warming as “overwhelming”.
According to the report, without a reinforcement of current policies, the world is heading for a warming of +3.2°C by the end of the century, and even if the commitments made by governments for the climate conference of the UN COP26 last year were held, the mercury would rise by + 2.8 ° C, while each additional tenth of a degree causes its share of new climatic disasters. To avoid this future of suffering, emissions would have to peak before 2025, in just three years, and decrease by almost half by 2030 compared to 2019, according to the IPCC.
“We are at a turning point. Our decisions today can ensure a liveable future,” insists IPCC boss Hoesung Lee, assuring that this new report provides the “tools” to do so. Thus, to respect +1.5°C, the use without carbon capture (non-mature technology on a large scale) of coal should be completely stopped and those of oil and gas reduced by 60% and 70%, respectively, d by 2050 compared to 2019 levels. “Almost all of the world’s electricity production must come from zero or low carbon sources”, insists the IPCC.
A scenario that takes on particular light with the war in Ukraine which has exposed the dependence of economies on fossil fuels, denounced for a long time by climate defenders. “It breaks my heart, as a Ukrainian climate activist, to experience a war that has fossil money at its heart,” commented Olha Boiko, member of the Climate Action Network. “The money we begged not to invest in dirty energy is now flying above our heads in the form of bombs. »
Beyond energy, which accounts for around a third of emissions, all sectors (transport, industry, agriculture, buildings, etc.) must also begin their rapid transformation, from the reduction of deforestation to the energy renovation of housing, in through the electrification of vehicles (provided they are powered by low-carbon electricity). Not to mention the deployment of carbon capture and storage methods that will be “inevitable” to achieve carbon neutrality in the early 2050s and limit global warming to +1.5°C.
For the first time, UN experts are also devoting an entire chapter to demand, estimating that acting on this lever could reduce emissions by 40 to 70% by 2050. and technology to enable changes in our lifestyles and behaviors (…) offers significant untapped (reduction) potential”, underlines Priyadarshi Shukla, one of the co-chairs of the working group which produced this report of some 2,800 pages.
While all these subjects affect the very organization of our lifestyles, consumption and production, in countries with different resources and different standards of living, the line-by-line, word-by-word approval of the “summary for the decision-makers” overflowed by more than 48 hours over the two weeks planned. According to sources inside the discussions, the key issue of the financial flows needed by developing countries to make their transition was hotly contested in the home stretch of this online, behind-closed-doors marathon.
As the report points out, “to meet the scale of this challenge, the flows of climate finance should be multiplied by four to eight by 2030”, underlined Monday Madeleine Diouf Sarr, on behalf of the group. of the least developed countries. “Not to mention adaptation funding and loss and damage funding”. Inequalities between countries, but also between rich and poor in general, with the 10% of households with the highest incomes in the world representing between 36 and 45% of emissions, notes the IPCC.