Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) director general, Sunita Narain, says there is no time to lose on the
new Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.
“We can no longer lose time in prevarication or in finding new excuses not to act—including empty promises of net zero by 2050.” Says Narain.
The director general was reacting to the latest IPCC report that confirms that we can no longer lose time in prevarication or in finding new excuses not to act, including empty promises of net zero by 2050.
The report on Climate Change is the first part of its sixth assessment report that sounds a dire warning.
Narain lists some key takeaways from the report – one, the world might be hurtling towards a 1.5°C temperature rise by 2040; two, the main trigger for climate change is, undoubtedly, human activities; and three, the efficiency of sinks to absorb emissions is going down.
The IPCC report says, “There are no “maybes” any more. The threat of climate change is real; dangers are imminent and the future is catastrophic.”
Narain is therefore calling on the world to demands effective global leadership adding that, the report coming from the normally conventional and conformist world of buttoned-up scientists, should scare the world into action—real and meaningful.
“The question is if we are listening. If action is being taken at the scale and pace needed. This is still not happening.”
According to her, the relative efficiency of sinks—the earth’s natural cleaning system, the oceans, forests and soils, will go down in the coming years as emissions continue to rise.
“Currently, oceans, land and forests together absorb some 50 per cent of the emissions release into the atmosphere each year. In other words, without these sinks, we would have already breached the 1.5°C warming by now.”
Narain also states that, the “net zero” plans of countries will have to be revisited.
Under the net-zero plan, countries like the US and China have declared that their emissions will remain below what their terrestrial sinks or carbon capture technologies will be able to clean up by 2050 and by 2060.
“But what this report also tells us is that we cannot “bank” on the sinks to clean up the emissions in the future at this same rate.”
The director general of the indian-based centre says countries will have to work even harder to plant more trees to sequester carbon dioxide, forget adding to the sinks to do more because per IPCC release, it means the sinks have reached their tipping points.
“Therefore, this report from global scientists must be a wake-up call. It is time we got serious and started meaningful action on the ground—today.”
For Nurain, the good news is that technologies are available to disrupt the current fossil fuel-driven industrial system.
“We do not have to wait for disruptive technologies. Instead we have to be disruptive in action. The problem is that even today the action on ground is too little and too late.”
Geenhouse gas emissions is expected to rise as countries, hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, rush to get back to the normal.
Every country is desperate for recovery and this means doing all that can be done with the current brown economy—including using coal and gas and oil and domestic manufacturing—to ratchet up growth as fast as possible.
Nurain says the world needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 45-50 per cent below the 2010 level by 2030 and reach net-zero by 2050.
In other words, we need transformational action and not some itsy-bitsy stuff of new cars to e-vehicles by 2030, or stopping coal but then moving on to natural gas—which is also fossil fuel.
“We need hard and drastic action. This is where the scientists, being scientists, cannot call out the most inconvenient of inconvenient truths. There is no doubt that top contributors to climate change are a handful of countries – the US and China, put together, add up to roughly half the world’s annual emissions.”
According to her, from 1870 to 2019, US, EU-27, Russia, UK, Japan and China contribute 60 per cent of the global carbon dioxide budget emissions.
“If you take even the Paris targets, the nationally determined contributions (NDCs) of these countries, then in 2030, they will increase their share of the budget to 68 per cent, not decrease it as needed and provide space for the rest of the world to grow. This is because their targets are abysmally low and disproportionate to the contribution to the problem and that China will increase its share of CO2 emissions – going from 10 Gt/CO2 to 12 Gt/CO2 annually in the coming decade.”
By Mahmud Mohammed-Nurudeen