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The most important report issued this century. Full stop.

Published on: 9 Oct 2018

Columnists: Nils Borg, European Council for an Energy Efficient Economy

“We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN” (The Guardian). How scary is that? And the heading of this column is not mine, but a quote from Euractiv’s the Brief. A few other headline quotes (sorry, just English-language press here):

“Final call to save the world from 'climate catastrophe'” (BBC), “Major Climate Report Describes a Strong Risk of Crisis as Early as 2040” (New York Times), and “Temperatures to rise 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030-2052 without rapid steps” (Reuters).

Frankly, we have known about the message in the IPCC report for a long time. Perhaps just not the specific details and perhaps not packaged the way it was. And the conclusions: 12 years?  That’s just three election cycles in my home country Sweden. We don't even have a government after four weeks so I hope others are getting their act together.

Euractiv’s ”Behind-the-curtain of the EU’s 2050 climate plan” could be the title of a dry dissertation in political science, but actually talks about how the European Commission’s long-term climate plan could be hamstrung by a semantic dispute over vague figures and a fear of failure left over from previous ill-fated attempts for more ambitious climate action. Euractiv writes:Commission bigwigs like President Jean-Claude Juncker and climate chief Miguel Arias Cañete both support a net-zero emissions 2050 strategy but sources have revealed that there are factions within the EU executive that are pushing for a more business-as-usual tack.”

Euractiv’s “Brief” (an e-mail news commentary), quoted in the heading of this column is refreshingly clear: “Early this morning [8 October], the UN’s climate change panel revealed what is arguably the most important report issued this century. Not the most important on climate mind you, the most important full-stop.”

And eceee’s own heading: IPCC: 2°C no longer safe. Not that I ever believed it was safe, but actually this is worse. This piece refers to the EU-based Coalition for Higher Ambition’s call to EU governments to adopt ambitious climate targets now.

Another Guardian piece: Energy sector's carbon emissions to grow for second year running.  This is discomforting in another way. We had started to be complacent after a couple of years with IEA’s Energy Efficiency Market reports showing reduced energy intensities. Not so anymore. The European Commission has even convened a task-force to look into why the energy consuming trends have started to go off in the wrong direction again.

So what can and should we do?

Action, just action. On all levels. You and me, our families and neighbourhoods, our communities and cities. Local governance is perhaps the most promising area for action right now. But let us also put pressure on national governments and the EU institutions (Council, Commission and Parliament), as well as on business. We can do our part, but let us tell policymakers and politicians that we expect all to do their part.

“You only need to know three things:” the C40 Coalition of major cities sums it up nicely in an e-mail alert:

  • The IPCC has found that even 2°C of global warming would be highly dangerous.
  • But, it's still possible to keep global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial averages.
  • In order to do that, we need to act now, and quickly.

It will not be easy. We can change behaviour, but I also expect policy to create structures that make it at least easier to do the right thing.

Nothing less will do now.

The IPCC report can be found here

The views expressed in this column are those of the columnist and do not necessarily reflect the views of eceee or any of its members.