MCC driving forward new topic within IPCC
The IPCC has announced the authors of its next Assessment Report. MCC group leader Felix Creutzig has a leading role in a key chapter.
The Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will, for the first time, include an entire chapter focusing on demand-side climate solutions. This comprises, for example, research on individual mobility, or household energy use. As announced by the IPCC, Felix Creutzig, group leader at the Mercator Research Institute Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC), will be a Coordinating Lead Author on this chapter. Two other MCC group leaders are involved in AR6 as Lead Authors .
So far, the IPCC Assessment Reports have focused primarily on how energy systems, transportation and production can be decarbonized through technological innovations—scientists refer to this as supply-side solutions. “In addition, we need to learn more about the demand side—this means, for example, to understand how energy consumption patterns are determined and how people can be incentivized to use energy in a 'smarter' way,” says Creutzig, head of the MCC working group Land Use, Infrastructure and Transport. “This goes beyond the question of mere energy efficiency. Individual lifestyles and behavioral patterns play a major role.”
Considering more demand-side solutions is worthwhile as they entail fewer environmental risks than many supply-side technologies. For example, by utilizing bioenergy, CO2 emissions can be reduced, but growing the crops also consumes a lot of land resources. “The new chapter gives us the opportunity to systematically reconcile the literature on demand-side climate solutions and thus give more weight to the topic,” Creutzig continues. “This requires a synthesis of research results from a wide variety of disciplines, such as psychology, economics and sociology.”
Not only the demand side, but also the supply side like fossil energy production—and especially the use of coal—will play a major role in AR6. The MCC is therefore also involved in the chapter on emissions trends and drivers, with MCC group leader Jan Minx as a Lead Author. Within the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment cycle, there will also be a Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C (SR15) to which MCC group leader Sabine Fuss is contributing as a Lead Author. This Special Report will be published in October 2018 and will thus be important for the upcoming 24th UN Climate Change Conference (COP24) in December in Poland.
MCC researchers already contributed to the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the IPCC. MCC Director Ottmar Edenhofer, for example, was one of the Co-Chairs of Working Group III, which is concerned with climate change mitigation. The Sixth IPCC Assessment Report will be completed in 2022.