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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Mixed reactions greet release of IPCC’s Synthesis Report

A flood of reactions has greeted the Synthesis Report of the Sixth Assessment Cycle (AR6) and Summary for Policymakers, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released on Monday, March 20, 2023.

IPCC Chair, Hoesung Lee (middle) and IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair, Jim Skea (right)

Observers believe that the AR6 Synthesis Report holds a mirror up to the scale of the climate crisis and lays out in stark detail why the end of the fossil fuel era starts now.

Saying that the body of science from the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment cycle provides irrefutable evidence to governments who have now endorsed all the reports and accepted the science, they stated that it is now on them (the governments) to take action in this decisive decade and make a drastic leap towards real solutions for a climate stable future for all.

Dr Stephan Singer, Senior Adviser on Science and Energy, Climate Action Network International, said: “The global science community and governments have agreed “unequivocally” that greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels are the single largest threat to people and nature. The science refers to the looming dangers of not aligning with the 1.5 C pathway and the deep, ambitious and equitable decarbonisation actions needed now to stay on track. It is a fact that almost half of the world’s population is and will be affected increasingly in next years with climate change impacts.

“The report warns that what presently is a one-in-a-century event with regards to storms, sea level rise, flooding will be an annual event in many places unless the world cuts carbon immediately. Governments agreed to keep the 1.5°C survival target as necessary and economically and technically feasible. The report agreed that the most cost-effective and sustainable options to cut emissions in the short and long term are with scaling up solar and wind energy, increasing energy efficiency, halting deforestation and embarking on restoration of degraded nature as well as shifting to more plant-based diets. Overall, this report is another nail in the coffin of the fossil fuel industry.”

Harjeet Singh, Head of Global Political Strategy, Climate Action Network International: “The new IPCC report shows the writing clearly on the wall. Governments have no excuse to ignore the emphatic warning for this critical decade. They must act fast to reject fossil fuels and stop any new expansion of oil, gas and coal. The blueprint for climate action presented by the IPCC is not short of solutions and infused with enough hope.

“Every fraction of a degree of warming puts us closer to breaching the 1.5°C survival threshold. Governments must strengthen efforts to protect communities from worsening and irreversible climate impacts, such as sea-level rise and melting of glaciers, which pose an existential threat to many communities. Scaling up finance must be the key lever to make the transition to a climate stable future in a just and equitable manner.”

Lili Fuhr, Deputy Director, Climate and Energy Programme, Centre for International Environmental Law (CIEL): “The takeaway of the IPCC synthesis is irrefutable: an immediate, rapid and equitable fossil fuel phaseout is the cornerstone of any strategy to avoid catastrophic levels of global warming. Yet, the negotiations this past week highlighted the clash between the latest climate science and the mainstream economic models that perpetuate a business-as-usual approach. The IPCC reports show that we can prevent irreversible harm to people and the planet if we scale up proven solutions available now: replacing fossil fuels with renewables, increasing energy efficiency, and reducing energy and resource use are the surest path to limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

“Building our mitigation strategies on models that instead lock in inequitable growth and conveniently assume away the risks of technofixes like carbon capture and storage and carbon dioxide removal ignores that clarion message and increases the likelihood of overshoot. The most ambitious mitigation pathways put out by the IPCC set the floor, not the ceiling, for necessary climate action. Solving the climate crisis is not about what works on paper but what delivers in practice. There is no time to waste with false solutions.”

Kaisa Kosonen, Senior Policy Advisor, Greenpeace Nordic: “The threats are huge, but so are the opportunities for change. This is our moment to rise up, scale up and be bold. Governments must stop doing just a little better and start doing enough. Thanks to brave scientists, communities and progressive leaders around the world, who’ve persistently advanced climate solutions like solar and wind energy for years and decades; we now have everything needed to solve this mess. It’s time to up our game, deliver on climate justice and push fossil fuel interests out of the way. There’s a role for everyone to play.”

Stephanie Roe, WWF Global Climate and Energy Lead Scientist and Lead Author on the IPCC Working Group III report: “This report represents the most comprehensive collection of climate science since the last assessment came out almost a decade ago. Weaving together the findings from the multi-thousand-page reports published over the last few years, it very clearly lays out the devastating impacts climate change is already having on our lives and ecosystems all around the world, the harsh future we all face if we don’t get our act together, and the solutions we can implement now to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change. Some countries are already achieving sustained emissions reductions, but action is not yet at the scale or speed we need.

“With current emissions still at their highest level in human history, we are way off course, and the window to limit warming to 1.5ºC is rapidly closing. The sooner and more decisively we act, the sooner people and nature can reap the benefits of a cleaner, safer and more stable future. We have all the tools we need, so it’s well within our power to meet this challenge if we act now.”

Marlene Achoki, Global Policy Co-Lead on Climate Justice, CARE International: “At 1.1 degrees of warming today, over three billion people are already living with the harshest realities of climate change; high temperatures, drought, flooding, and other events that contribute to acute food and water insecurity, malnutrition, and loss of livelihoods. Often women and girls are among the most affected. The devastating impact of Cyclone Freddy in Southern Africa, the longest cyclone ever recorded, puts human faces to these figures. Governments and decision makers must act immediately by stepping up adaptation efforts with ramped up financial support from rich countries. And as the IPCC report indicates, this will only be effective with meaningful local participation and strong integration of gender-based equity considerations.”

Teresa Anderson, Climate Justice Lead, ActionAid International: “There’s a terrifying flood of evidence that climate impacts are already far worse, and harming billions more people, than was predicted even just a few years ago. It really proves the urgent need for the UN to make good on last year’s historic decision at COP27 to create a new fund to help communities affected by climate-induced loss and damage. But everyone who reads this report will be scared for their own future. This needs to be the trigger that moves the world from grudging acceptance to rapid action on climate change.

“With the finger of blame firmly pointed at the fossil fuel industry, governments need to stop delaying and start acting. For too many years, the elusive promises of technofixes or carbon offsets have allowed the biggest polluters to string us all along. Enough is enough. There is only a narrow window of opportunity to limit warming to 1.5°C, avoid runaway climate breakdown, and protect billions of people. But we can only do this if governments are willing to treat this report as a clear mandate for courageous action.”

Olivier Bois von Kursk, Policy Analyst, International Institute for Sustainable Development: “The IPCC Synthesis Report gives us the clearest evidence to date on the devastation of climate change and our failure to address its underlying causes. The clear implication is that we must act immediately to phase out coal, oil and gas – IISD’s analysis of IPCC pathways to 1.5°C shows oil and gas production needs to decrease 30% by 2030 and 65% by 2050.

“Any conclusion that we can delay the energy transition by capturing massive amounts of carbon from fossil fuel or bioenergy production is out of touch with the IPCC’s assessment of the challenges facing these expensive, unproven technologies. Without a sharp decline in the production and consumption of all fossil fuels, the remarkable progress on renewable energy deployment over the past years will be meaningless for the climate.”

Rachel Cleetus, Policy Director, Climate and Energy Program, Union of Concerned Scientists: “The stark facts in this latest IPCC report, and the devastating, costly climate-related disasters being experienced by people around the world, are harsh reminders that our governments are failing us. Decades of politically motivated inaction from policymakers and the greed of fossil fuel companies who are obstructing climate progress have put us on this trajectory of mounting economic harm and human misery.

“The IPCC report is bracingly clear that a sharp phase down of fossil fuels and a just and transformative shift to clean energy, accompanied by equitable investments in climate resilience, are the only ways to secure a livable future. If policymakers in richer nations like the United States continue to expand fossil fuels and fail to provide climate finance for low-income countries, they are acting in direct contradiction to the science and to the well-being of people and the planet.”

Shaye Wolf, climate science director at the Centre for Biological Diversity: “Reading the UN’s latest dire climate warnings just days after Biden approved massive new Arctic oil drilling is utterly infuriating. The fossil-fueled path to more climate disasters, mass displacements and wildlife extinctions is bleak, but it’s not inevitable. Chief among world leaders, Biden has the tools to not only ratchet up renewables but move us decisively off fossil fuels. Scientists have mapped the way to a livable planet, but we need the political will to get us there.”

Yolande Wright, Global Director Child Poverty, Climate and Urban, Save the Children International: “The scientific evidence summarised by the IPCC leaves no doubt that urgent action is needed to limit warming to a maximum of 1.5°C. World leaders must act now by rapidly phasing out the use and subsidy of fossil fuels. The lives of our children depend on it.

“The climate crisis is a child’s rights crisis. It’s only fair that children have a say in decisions which will have a massive impact on their futures. At this year’s IPCC plenary, Save the Children was accompanied as an observer by youth delegates – marking a historic first. Save the Children also worked with the IPCC to create guidelines, making it clear that young people and children can attend, opening the gateway for more youth delegates in the future.”

Alden Meyer, Senior Associate, E3G – Third Generation Environmentalism: “The IPCC report confirms what we already know: we are seriously off track from meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. In the run up to December’s COP28 UN climate summit in Dubai, leaders, ministers, and negotiators must all work together to speed up the end of the fossil fuel era, strengthen climate resilience, help vulnerable communities cope with mounting climate impacts, and unlock much greater sums of money for climate action.

“The good news in the report is that we still have the ability to course-correct Spaceship Earth onto a more sustainable, prosperous path. But there is no more time to lose.”

Klaus Röhrig, Head of Climate, CAN Europe: “There is a reason why everyone talks about 1.5°C. It’s not a craving, not a buzzword, not a wish list by environmentalists… it’s a scientific survival target. As dramatic as it is, the equation is quite straightforward: we know the problems and the solutions, what remains is the political will. We need the EU to be a climate leader and contribute to get us out of the many crises we are facing, making a historical push and once and for all publicly commit to what everyone knows needs to happen to avoid even more dreadful consequences: ditching fossil fuels and protecting the people and the planet.”

“With the newest science available, it’s even clearer how the European Green Deal is falling very short. As the EU is close to finalising the legislative process to put it into motion, it is absolutely key that the remaining legislative proposals, i.e. buildings, gas package, and renewables, aim much higher so that the climate and energy legislative package ‘Fit For 55’ can overshoot the 55 and get closer to at least 65. It’s a matter of science and global equity.”

Sanjay Vashist, Director, Climate Action Network South Asia (CANSA): “IPCC’s sixth assessment report is the final warning from IPCC scientists to governments that they have less than 10 years to act on climate change. Over the last two decades IPCC scientists have provided irrefutable scientific evidence and plausible solutions to avert the climate crisis.  The latest report reiterates that phasing out of fossil fuels in favour of low-carbon sources is ‘technically possible and is estimated to be relatively low in cost.’ Historical polluters, the developed and rich countries must act on science and take drastic and immediate actions by reducing their emissions and delivering on climate finance and technology to developing and poor countries.”

Tzeporah Berman, Chair of the Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Initiative and International Program Director at Stand.earth: “This latest report could not make it clearer: the time is now for bold actions that directly address the climate crisis in an effective way. People from all over the world are already experiencing the increasingly dangerous impacts of a warmer planet. What communities across the world need is health, safety and security. The IPCC report shows that only by transitioning away from being fossil-fuel reliant, we can prevent the most catastrophic consequences of climate change.

“Yet, governments and companies are recklessly continuing to expand oil, gas and coal projects. They are quite literally throwing gas at an already burning planet. A Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty serves to target the root of this growing problem so we can start the global transition out of this crisis. A new global fossil fuel treaty will help countries manage these risks and constraint productions through a fast and fair scale required to address our global crisis.”

Gerry Arances, Executive Director, CEED – Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development: “This synthesis report takes every excuse to keep burning fossil fuels down the drain. Any company, any government that promotes new coal, gas, or other fossil fuel projects is dealing a death sentence to the 1.5°C global warming threshold and the survival of millions. Science is clear: the only option we have is to urgently shift to energy from renewables, or else sentence vulnerable peoples, especially in the Global South, to even more irreparable and irreversible loss and damage.”

Ben Jealous, Executive Director, Sierra Club: “The world’s foremost scientists have told us everything we need to know about how catastrophic the climate crisis already is and what the consequences will be if we fail to meet our collective goal. The 1.5-degree Celsius guideline is not just a target – it is the threshold upon which our collective survival depends.

“Each time the Biden Administration approves a fossil fuel project like Willow or US politicians propose legislation that gives handouts to the fossil fuel industry, they push us ever closer to the point of irreversible and catastrophic damage. The science tells us it is not too late to save ourselves and future generations and we have the tools and information we need to avert climate catastrophe, but it requires a political will we have yet to see from the world’s biggest polluters. The question then ultimately is whether President Biden, the US Congress, and world leaders are up to the challenge of protecting our environment and our humanity or will they fail the ultimate test?

“We at the Sierra Club – along with the most vulnerable frontline countries and communities – know that failure is simply not an option. We must transition to a clean energy economy, we must put an end to the fossil fuel industry, and we must protect our planet for generations to come.”

Steven Vanholme, Programme manager EKOenergy ecolabel, Finnish Association for Nature Conservation: “Every part of a degree, every tonne of CO2 counts. The past three years have proven that societies and politicians are capable of responding and adapting quickly to health crises and war. Now is the time to show the same decisiveness in response to today’s IPCC report, which is a red alert for the planet and those living on it. We have to agree on a timetable to phase out all fossil fuels and facilitate a fair and just energy transition, worldwide. 100% renewables by 2040 is possible, in all sectors. Everyone can and should contribute to it, and there are plenty of opportunities, in particular for those who move fastest.”

Caroline Brouillette, Acting Executive Director, Climate Action Network – Réseau action climat Can: “This synthesis report makes devastatingly clear that acting without delay is the safest option, especially for marginalised populations most vulnerable to climate change everywhere. Science has done more than what has been asked of it; now we need governments to show the political commitment to reduce emissions across systems and sectors, invest in adaptation and respond to losses and damages.

“And to confront, once and for all, the fossil fuel industry’s grip on policy which has been preventing us from getting there. The IPCC is crystal clear regarding the necessity to limit global warming to 1.5°C, and the increasing hazards we will collectively face with every tenth of a degree of increase in temperature. By COP28, governments must demonstrate how they will align their actions with science and enact rapid, equitable, transformational change.”

Chiara Martinelli, Director at CAN Europe: “There is a reason why everyone talks about 1.5°. It’s not a craving, not a buzzword, not a wish list by environmentalists… it’s a scientific survival target. As dramatic as it is, the equation is quite straightforward: we know the problems and the solutions, what remains is the political will. We need the EU to be a climate leader and contribute to get us out of the many crises we are facing, making a historical push and once and for all publicly commit to what everyone knows needs to happen to avoid even more dreadful consequences: ditching fossil fuels and protecting the people and the planet.”

Sven Harmeling, International Climate Policy Expert at CAN Europe: “1.5°C is a temperature threshold we cannot drop. It is already catastrophic at 1.1 and those fractions of degrees literally mean millions of lives. Science says that we need to go much faster in cutting emissions and building resilience. The transformations needed will eventually be less radical than the disruptions the world will experience if we fail. And the IPCC report is crystal clear that the next seven years are the very last chance to keep this survival limit, after decades of delayed action and murderous deceit by the fossil fuel business with governments’ complicity.”

Nafkote Dabi, Oxfam’s Climate Policy Lead: “We can tackle the climate crisis and end poverty. This is not an either or. If the richest 1 percent stopped squandering so much carbon on private jets, big polluting cars and investments in fossil fuels, the poorest half of humanity could grow their tiny carbon footprints to get their basic needs met.

“To stay within the 1.5°C guardrail, every person on Earth would need to stay below an average of 2.2 tons of CO2 emissions per year by 2030. The richest 1 percent exhaust this remaining ‘carbon budget’ in just 12 days each year, while the poorest 50 percent of humanity emits less than half over an entire year. This inequality is absolutely ridiculous.”

Ottmar Edenhofer, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research PIK and former co-chair of the IPCC´s Working Group 3: “The IPCC’s sixth synthesis report shows that we can still meet the 1.5 limit if we act quickly now and permanently reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors. This will require supporting Carbon Dioxide Removal technologies whose deployment is associated with moderate economic costs. While the rise in emissions worldwide is leveling off somewhat, emissions are not yet falling. There is also good news: The report shows that in certain world regions a decoupling of CO2 emissions and economic growth is just beginning, i.e., that a high quality of life is also achievable with low emissions.”

Elmar Kriegler, co-chair of the Transformation Pathways Research Department at PIK and lead author of the IPCC Fifth and Sixth Assessment Reports (Working Group 3) as well as of the chapter on 1.5°C mitigation pathways in the IPCC Special Report on 1.5°C Global Warming: “The sixth synthesis report once again highlights the urgency to act. The damage from climate change is already extensive, and global emissions remain at record levels. We need an immediate reduction in global emissions to net zero within 30 years to keep the 1.5°C degree target within reach. There are solutions in all sectors to achieve this, but it will take great creative will, collective action and massive investment to make it happen. The report also highlights the close link between climate change and equity. It is the poorest who have contributed least to climate change and will be hit hardest by it. A more equitable world requires active climate action.”

Mohamed Adow, Director of Power Shift Africa, said: “This announcement from the IPCC is important for the whole world but nowhere is it more important than for Africa, which is on the frontline of the climate crisis.

“It is a wake-up call for Africa and the world.

“Africans are experiencing the worst impacts of climate breakdown, from floods, storms and droughts, like the one that is currently killing people in East Africa. It is clear that without rapid action this suffering will increase.

“The good news is that we have affordable clean energy and the technology to decarbonise the world’s energy system.  What we need now is to see this harnessed at greater speed and scale to usher in a secure and prosperous future for us all.”

May Boeve, Executive Director, 350.org: “This report urgently demands a phase out of fossil fuels and a just transition to publicly and community-centred renewable energy and it demands it at the speed and scale that the climate crisis necessitates. There are reasons to be hopeful, investment into renewable energy is at an all-time high, but the reality is that powering up on renewables will only have an impact if we power down fossil fuels. We can add as much renewable energy capacity as we like to the mix — but if we’re not eliminating emissions that come from fossil fuel use, we’re not getting anywhere.”

Joseph Sikulu, 350.org Pacific Managing Director: “Just last month we saw two tropical cyclones tear through Vanuatu within the span of one week, devastating communities. 1.5 degrees isn’t just a target for the Pacific, it is a limit. To stay below that limit, we need a fast, fair and financed transition away from fossil fuels. Just last week, 6 Pacific countries signed the Port Vila Call for a Just Transition to a Fossil Fuel Free Pacific, while rich, developed countries continue to approve new oil and gas fields.

“Pacific Islander bear almost no historical responsibility for the climate crisis but are willing to lead the transition away from fossil fuels and into renewable energy. There is still hope and the solutions to this crisis exist, but it’s going to first take a just and equitable phase out of fossil fuels to make these possible.”

Norly Gradce Mercado, 350.org Asia Regional Director: “The realities of the recent IPCC report are visible across Asia, with increasingly frequent typhoons, flooding and heat waves. Post pandemic, our communities and lives are even more vulnerable to these impacts than before. To avoid more loss of life and livelihoods, we need to urgently take action to stay within the 1.5-degree Paris Agreement target.  Overshooting it would be completely disregarding the realities of communities on the frontlines right this moment. We can only do this if countries like Japan cease to block phase-out incentives at the G7 level, and richer nations distribute the resources needed to fund the just transition to 100% renewable energy.”

Landry Ninteretse, 350.org Africa Regional Director: “For the communities at the frontline of the climate crisis across the continent, the intensifying climate impacts are a painful manifestation of the climate injustice faced by those who have contributed the least to climate change. Recently, Cyclone Freddy has devastated communities in Malawi, Mozambique, and Madagascar, leading to the loss of over 400 lives, displacement of communities, and destruction of infrastructure.

“The possibility of catastrophic climate impacts that scientists project, if global heating exceeds the limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius, is unthinkable. This calls for commitment to phase out fossil fuels globally and fostering a just transition to community-centred renewable energy. Additionally, climate-vulnerable countries need the support of wealthy nations to build resilience against these impacts.”

Masayoshi Iyoda, 350.org Japan Team Lead: “The IPCC has made it crystal clear enough that richer nations such as Japan have historical responsibility to take the lead in accelerating the phase-out of all fossil fuels, and the just transition to renewables. Climate denialism is not only unmoral but also non-scientific and economically unreasonable. Japan must stop playing the role of a merchant of false solutions through its controvesial GX policy including fossil-ammonia/hydrogen co-firing, nuclear, CCS/CCUS.”

Ilan Zugman, 350.org Latin America Regional Director: “The scenario presented by the IPCC report is palpable in several places in Latin America, where denialist governments have acted, in recent years, as accomplices in the expansion of fossil fuels, while indigenous peoples and social movements have led the demand for renewable energies.

“In countries like Brazil and Colombia, new governments seem to be more attentive to frontline communities’ demands for a just energy transition, but have yet to show concrete actions, such as banning fracking and oil and gas subsidies. These are countries with enormous potential to lead the generation of energy through renewable sources and a model centred on people’s needs, and not on the profit of fossil fuel companies.

“While the IPCC report summarizes what humanity needs to do to solve the climate crisis, governments, companies and banks involved in projects like Vaca Muerta, in Argentina, demonstrate the limitless greed that brought us to this emergency. We cannot push developing countries to do the dirty work that rich countries no longer want, the energy transition needs to be global.”

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