The gap between ambition and action in tackling global warming
In an op-ed for “The Guardian” MCC scientists recommend to quickly close the gap between the goals of the Paris Agreement and its implementation.
The Paris Agreement on Climate Change has been a big surprise to many, as the countries agreed to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Reaching this target, however, is enormously challenging. Despite far-reaching commitments, the question of how greenhouse gas emissions can be substantially and sustainably reduced has not been answered, yet. In an op-ed for the British newspaper “The Guardian”, Sabine Fuss and Jan Minx from the Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) express their hope that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will take action on this issue.
The IPCC is assigned to map out the state of the scientific knowledge on the 1.5°C goal in a Special Report due in autumn 2018. “While the panel had a pivotal role in generating a shared understanding of the nature and risks of climate change, it now needs to be more focused on responses to climate change”, the authors recommend. The suggested outline for the report is currently under discussion at the IPCC’s plenary in Bangkok. It includes a separate chapter that deals with the matter of how to counteract the dissonance between ambition and action in climate change mitigation.
According to the MCC scientists, the dissonance is especially prevalent in three areas: First, achievement of the 1.5°C target is fundamentally dependent on the ability to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere at large-scale. However, policy makers show limited awareness of this technological dependence. Second, negative emissions technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) have been subject to intense criticism, mostly due to the pressure on land that is needed for food and shelter for a growing world population. Third, the IPCC will need to make progress in evaluating climate and energy policies. A precondition for supporting emission reductions in the short-term is to learn fast what policies work well and what policies do not.
“The New York Times”’s climate change blog “Dot Earth” praises the MCC scientists for their insights and provides some excerpts of their “the Guardian” piece.