In the city of Incheon, South Korea, between October 1 and 5, 2018, the 48th Session of the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the First Session of the Group were held. of Work I, II and III.
In this meeting the Fifth Assessment Report of the IPCC was presented, whose main objective is to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius from its pre-industrial level. This goal, according to the report, will require “unprecedented changes” at a social and global level, due to the seriousness of the planet’s situation due to the sustained increase in global temperature, with all its consequences.
What is the IPCC?
The IPCC is an international organization, established in 1988 with the cooperation of two UN organizations: The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland, and its current president is Hoesung Lee, elected on October 6, 2015. The first report was published in 1990, the second in 1995, the third in 2001 and the fourth in 2007.
Many countries from all continents are part of the IPCC. Meetings are held once or twice a year. The IPCC has internationally accepted authority on climate change and to make pertinent recommendations.
The Organization does not conduct research on its own, neither does monitoring of climate-related phenomena. The main activity of the IPCC is to publish special reports on relevant topics on Climate Change. For this it uses the research of hundreds of scientists and experts who does the work voluntarily. Its conclusions are reviewed by representatives of all governments.
The decision to prepare the Fifth Assessment Report was adopted by the members of the IPCC at its 28th meeting, held in Budapest, Hungary, between 9 and 10 April 2008. The three working groups have different tasks. Group I is responsible for producing the necessary scientific basis. Group II is dedicated to the effects of climate, adaptation and vulnerability. Group III investigates mitigation.
The IPCC press release
In the press release issued by the IPCC, we can read that the Organization approved the special report on global warming of 1.5 °C on October 6. In addition, he advances that “This report will be a fundamental scientific contribution in the Conference on Climate Change to be held in December in Katowice (Poland), where governments will examine the Paris Agreement to address climate change.”
The full name of the report is “Global Warming of 1.5 °C, IPCC Special Report on Impacts”. It contains main statistics on global warming. It was carried out by 91 authors from 44 nationalities and 40 countries of residence. 14 main authors coordinated the working groups, in addition to other 60 authors, 17 editors-reviewers, 133 contributing authors. It contains more than 6,000 references. 42,001 review observations were made by experts and governments.
According to the IPCC, the limitation of global warming to 1.5 °C instead of 2 °C would have important benefits for humanity and natural ecosystems and would mark the way towards a more sustainable and equitable society.
Statements by some IPCC representatives
“One of the fundamental messages thrown out bluntly by the report is that we are already living the consequences of a global warming of 1 °C, with more extreme weather conditions, rising sea levels and waning sea ice in the Arctic, among others changes”, said Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I.
Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of Working Group II of the IPCC, stated: “The probability that the Arctic Ocean will be free of ice in summer would be once per century with a global warming of 1.5 °C, compared to a minimum once per decade with one of 2 °C. Coral reefs would decrease between 70% and 90% with a global warming of 1.5 °C, while practically all of them (> 99%) would disappear with a 2 °C. Each extra portion of heating is important, especially to the extent that a warming of 1.5 °C or more increases the risk associated with lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems.”
“The good news is that some types of measures that would be needed to limit global warming to 1.5 °C are already being carried out around the world, but it would be necessary to accelerate them,” said Valerie Masson-Delmotte, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I.
The report emphasizes that to limit global warming to 1.5 °C would require “rapid and far-reaching transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport and cities”.
Emphasizes the need for global net emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) of human origin to decrease by around 45% in 2030 from 2010 levels, and to continue decreasing until reaching “net zero” by approximately 2050.
The report states that, if the global temperature is allowed to exceed 1.5 °C, “it would be necessary to rely to a greater extent on techniques that absorb CO2 from the atmosphere to return to global warming below 1.5 °C in 2100” . But he cautions that the effectiveness of these techniques is not proven on a large scale and some can entail significant risks for sustainable development.
“Limiting global warming to 1.5 °C instead of 2 °C would reduce the problematic impacts on ecosystems, human health and well-being, and facilitate the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” said Priyardarshi. Shukla, IPCC Co-Chair of Working Group III.
“The decisions we make today are decisive to ensure a safe and sustainable world for all, both now and in the future,” said Debra Roberts, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.
“This report provides policy makers and professionals with the information they need to make decisions to address climate change, taking into account the local context and people’s needs.” The next few years are probably the most important in our history “added Debra Roberts.
Positive achievements of the Incheon meeting
Undoubtedly, the five-day meeting in the South Korean city had the merit of obtaining headlines in a large number of medias around the world, only comparable with the announcement of the approval of the Paris Agreement in 2015. On social networks and in the Websites notably increased the number of people who entered to seek information and comment on the issue.
This is positive, because generally the interest of the public in these matters is very low. Let’s put it clearly: global warming and climate change are not popular issues.
The widespread dissemination of the IPCC report caused millions of people to turn their heads towards the seriousness and urgency of the announced dangers. In addition, the report made us see that the problems are not for 2080 or for the end of the century. The IPCC has officially informed us that the problems are here, already, at this time. We must take heroic and urgent measures by 2030 if we do not want the situation to get out of hand.
About the issue of 0.5 ºC, the main issue of report, we are concerned that such a small variation may have such important effects on the climate of the planet.
We are also concerned about how to achieve that 0.5 °C. Because while hundreds of scientists work unselfishly and ad-honorem in the field, collecting thousands of data for their reports, and others on the premises of the offices reviewing and correcting the work that has been delivered to them, there is another reality outside. New oil fields continue to be searched eagerly; more countries join to implement the extraction of fossil fuels through non-traditional techniques such as fracking; hundreds of truckloads of trunks are still being extracted from at least ten forests in the world, including those in the Amazon rainforest. Seas and oceans continue to be contaminated with plastics, industrial landfills and sewage. Before our eyes the parts per million of CO2 leaped the psychological barrier of the 400 PPM, which had remained below this value for millions of years.
If 0.5 °C more or 0.5° C less can cause that great difference in climate stability, as the IPCC has just announced, we do not even want to imagine what would happen with 1, 2, 3 or 4 degrees more if it is not possible to stop the emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the deforestation of the forests and the pollution of the waters.
There are urgent measures that oblige those involved in these fields to reduce their activities. The mere fact of building more solar panels, windmills and electric cars will not be enough. Less in a scenario that cuts response times due to the acceleration of the effects of climate change.
Sandor Alejandro Gerendas-Kiss
IPCC Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Fifth IPCC Evaluation Report: Climate Change. Retrieved from https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/index_en.shtml