Key differences persist as IPCC meet stretches on

ByJayashree Nandi, New Delhi
Mar 18, 2023 02:06 AM IST

According to the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) of the International Institute of Sustainable Development (IISD), “significant work was still to be done” before the meeting ended at 2am on Friday.

Government representatives from 195 countries strived to make progress in approving the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Synthesis report scheduled for release on Monday, with negotiations stretching into the weekend as nations remained divided on several key issues.

Representational image. (AP)
Representational image. (AP)

According to the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) of the International Institute of Sustainable Development (IISD), “significant work was still to be done” before the meeting ended at 2am on Friday.

Observers said key issues likely to find space in the forthcoming IPCC report would be those around overshoot of the 1.5°C warming goal, carbon capture and storage, equity and burden-sharing, and climate finance to make energy transition possible – and there were significant differences over most of these.

“The approval process is moving very slowly and is likely to spill over to Saturday at least. Contentions cannot be discussed because these are behind closed rooms. But some issues that are emerging are language around overshoot of 1.5 degree C; carbon capture and storage technology which is generally a contentious issue; issues concerning who has contributed how much to the problem and climate finance,” an observer said.

“The upcoming IPCC report will provide unequivocal evidence on how fossil fuels are the root cause of the climate crisis, causing widespread suffering and irreversible losses and damages to people and ecosystems. Governments must act on the stark warning by equitably phasing out of fossil fuels, supporting the affected communities through just transitions, and providing public finance to tackle climate impacts,” said Harjeet Singh, Head of Global Political Strategy, Climate Action Network International who is in Interlaken for the meeting to approve the IPCC report.

The Synthesis Report will provide an overview of the state of knowledge on the science of climate change and will highlight new findings since the publication of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report in 2014. It will be written in a non-technical style that is accessible to non-scientists and address policy-relevant questions approved by the panel without prescribing policy responses, according to International Institute for Sustainable Development.

On Thursday, Sarah Connors, head of the science team in Technical Support Unit of the IPCC’s Working Group I, and Félix Chavelli, a master’s student at the Superior National School of Advanced Techniques (ENSTA Paris), wrote in a guest post in Carbon Brief that IPCC’s citations were dominated by studies in the global north – highlighting how equity in talking about issues would be key.

“One of the major issues is to ensure a balanced summary for policymakers which has balance on emissions, impacts, mitigation scenarios etc,” another observer said. The synthesis report will have findings on historical responsibility of countries from the global south and north, Jim Skea, IPCC co-chair of the working group III had said in an interview to HT on February 8.

“The report will very clearly mention who emitted the least and who are the most vulnerable,” said an Indian delegate from Interlaken, asking not to be named.

The synthesis report will feed into this year’s Global Stocktake, according to a statement by IPCC. The global stocktake of the Paris Agreement is a process for taking stock of the implementation of the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement goal is to keep global temperature rise this century to well below 2°C limit, compared to pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“The economic pathways and models used especially the mitigation models are not real world and don’t present all possible futures. They are built by economists who follow a certain school of economics and they are structurally biased. Several analyses have highlighted these bias, including the fact that most scenarios assume the rich parts of the world to get richer and poor parts poorer and delay climate action into the future. I hope these underlying assumptions and model limitations to come to surface in this synthesis report and for the IPCC to provide information to policy makers that allows them to base their decisions on the most viable and just pathways,” said Lili Fuhr from the Center for International Environmental Law.

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