UN to release new report on action to tackle climate crisis after marathon talks

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change looks at the action needed to curb global warming.

Emily Beament
Monday 04 April 2022 00:01
The report from the UN’s science body will set out measures to cut emissions from the energy sector (Rui Vieira/PA)
The report from the UN’s science body will set out measures to cut emissions from the energy sector (Rui Vieira/PA)

A major new UN report setting out the action needed to tackle the climate crisis is set to be released after marathon talks to agree its findings.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is expected to set out the rapid action required to curb global warming to 1.5C or below 2C, including deep cuts to fossil fuels with a switch to technology such as renewables.

The report from the UN’s science body, due out on Monday, will highlight measures to cut emissions from the energy sector, agriculture and land, cities, buildings, industry and transport.

It is also expected to emphasise the role of consumer behaviour and will look at ways to take carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, including through activities such as planting trees and new technology, and the challenges with them.

It is clear that the solutions are cheaper than the impacts - that acting to tackle the climate crisis is cheaper than not acting

Gareth Redmond-King, Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit

But the two-week long online meeting of scientists and representatives of 195 governments to approve the summary of the report line-by-line ran late into Sunday, well past the Friday scheduled finish time, as delegates wrangled over the text.

The approval process means that when the final version is released, governments have signed off on the findings.

But it has been slow progress to secure agreement on the report, which is expected to outline the need to swiftly and dramatically cut greenhouse gases, particularly by reducing fossil fuel use.

The inclusion of language on curbing coal power and fossil fuel subsidies in the Glasgow Pact, agreed at UN climate talks in Scotland late last year, provoked heated debate between countries heavily reliant on fossil fuels and those most threatened by the impacts of climate change.

The new report comes as soaring energy prices and supply pressures, worsened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have prompted renewed debate over security of supplies, and whether to accelerate climate action or exploit more oil and gas resources.

(PA Graphics)

In the UK, the fossil fuel industry and some MPs have urged a restart to controversial fracking or more extraction from North Sea oil and gas, but there have also been widespread calls for insulating homes, more renewables and weaning the country off gas in response to the crisis.

The Government is set to unveil its new energy security strategy this week, with expectations it will set out plans to boost new nuclear power capacity, solar and offshore wind.

But there appears to have been debate within the Government over the role of onshore wind, although it is cheap and popular with the public, and any efforts to boost domestic oil and gas production in the strategy will prove controversial with campaigners.

The new UN report is the third instalment of the sixth assessment report, an overarching analysis of the world’s knowledge on climate change, and the first of its kind since 2014.

The first part of the assessment, which looked at the physical basis of climate change and was released in August 2021, found humans are unequivocally driving global warming, with the effects already being felt.

It was labelled a “code red for humanity” by UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres.

When the second report was released in February, detailing the impacts of rising temperatures and the options, and limits, to adapting to them, Mr Guterres described it as “an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership”.

It found climate change has led to increasing heat and heatwaves, rising sea levels, floods, wildfires, and drought, causing death, food and water scarcity, and migration.

Ahead of the latest report’s publication, Greenpeace UK senior climate adviser Charlie Kronick said: “Our fossil fuel dependence is funding (Vladimir) Putin’s war and soaring gas prices are hurting millions of households.

“We already have good reasons to move away from oil and gas and invest in insulation and heat pumps to cut energy wastage from our homes.

“But on Monday, the world’s leading climate scientists will remind us of the other major reason we must do so: to stop the climate disaster threatening everything we hold dear.”

Sam Hall, director of the Conservative Environment Network, which includes dozens of Tory MPs, said the goals of energy security, cost of living and cutting emissions to net-zero to tackle climate change all pull in the same direction.

“The answer remains the same in all cases: clean energy deployment, reducing fossil fuel consumption, and improving energy efficiency.”

Gareth Redmond-King, international lead at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said the IPCC sets out solutions to the climate crisis.

“It sets out, in some detail, how we respond to the alarm and avoid the apocalyptic future we know we’re heading for if we don’t act.

“It is clear that the solutions are cheaper than the impacts, that acting to tackle the climate crisis is cheaper than not acting.

“It is now down to political leaders, particularly G20 leaders, as the largest economies and biggest emitters, to choose how bad we let things get.”

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