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Only three years left to monitor climate change !

Olivier ABULI, advice and analyses consultant

April 13, 2022

The third part of the IPCC report on « climate change mitigation » was passed on Sunday, April 3th. The harsh negotiations to which it gave rise are reminiscent of the difficulties met in validating the last November COP26 final statement.

The same causes, the same effects : as the window of opportunity narrows, it is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid the three critical issues of a quick shift away from fossil fuels, the equitable access to technologies and the solidarity-based financing of transformations.

Scientists are positive : solutions do exist in all sectors then allowing to reduce our emissions by 50% by 2030, but it is compulsory to implement them in a global and coordinated way by 2025.

2025, a pivotal year

All the scenarios converge : to cap global warming to a maximum of 2°C (the objectives of the 2015 Paris Agreement are already almost obsolete), it is essential to limit the peak of emissions by 2025 by immediately strengthening mitigation levers and policies, because we are currently on a trajectory with unpredictable consequences.

In concrete terms, respecting the 1.5°C limit, without going beyond it, would require reducing the use of coal, gas and oil respectively by 100%, 70% and 60% by 2050. To keep to the 2°C limit, these rates are respectively 85%, 15% and 30%, keeping in mind that, within these assumptions, almost all electricity will have to be supplied by zero or very low carbon sources.

This is a key clarification, since all feasible options are based on a massive electrification of the means of production, transportation and management of thermal flows in buildings, based on a mix of renewable energy, nuclear power and low-carbon hydrogen.

Solutions and technologies are at your fingertips

In the past, the IPCC experts have not been so optimistic. But so they say ! There exist mature and proven solutions (Renewable Energies, for instance) or solutions at an advanced pilot stage or even a pre-commercialization one available for the entire spectrum of activities and thus offering significant impacts : namely, cement industry, metallurgy, new buildings, energy renovation of buildings, mobility, agriculture…etc.

But there is very little time left to keep a relative control of the « climate machine » without uniquely betting the future on carbon capture and storage technologies, the coming out of which is still uncertain.

For the IPCC authors, it is therefore possible to cap the temperature increase, but under three systemic conditions.

Move towards a reasoned reduction in demand

For the first time, this report establishes a link between excessive consumption patterns of unsustainable products and climate issues. Demand management, coupled with behavioral changes, substantial progress in eco-design and optimization of reuse capacities could reduce global GHG emissions by 40% while respecting individual well-being.

Financial paradigms

Between 2016 and 2020, $761 billion per year have been invested in fossil fuels. In comparison, the commitment of the G20 countries to meet the needs of developing countries facing climate disruption by 2025 is only $100 billion per year. And during 2021, global climate disasters caused $270 billion in damage according to insurers... As investors and insurers are faced with the reality of the figures and tightening standards, they are seriously starting to reappraise their models and their analysis grids.

However, according to the IPCC, the volume of liquidity available on the markets is more than sufficient to cover the investment needs required to mitigate global warming. And all this, even if the resources that need to be allocated to it had to be multiplied by a factor of 3 to 6 !

The UN therefore encourages countries and regional powers to send strong signals in terms of incentives and constraints so as to accelerate and support this fundamental reorientation of capital.

Convergence, coherence and complementarity of policies

What was already a key message in the second report published in February is repeated here. From the local level to international cooperation and regulatory bodies, public authorities must mobilize all their institutional capacities to promote the most effective innovations and support the creation of sustainable markets. Their responsibility is to lead economic actors by setting directions and timetables that secure the systemic transformation of entire sectors of activity and industry.

« In all sectors, we have solutions to at least halve emissions by 2030. »
(IPCC press release, April 4th, 2022).

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