Clean energy transition must be fast and fair

Emissions will have to be cut swiftly and deeply across economies to limit global warming to internationally agreed temperature limits, they said in a new flagship science report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

But “if you do that at the expense of justice, of poverty eradication and the inclusion of people, then you’re back at the starting block”, said Fatima Denton, one of its 278 authors.

The report’s release was delayed by six hours after governments tasked with approving a key policy summary wrangled over equity, finance and other thorny issues, including how big a role “nature-based solutions” like tree-planting should play in cutting emissions.

The report did not call for the full abandonment of fossil fuels but emphasised that the technology needed to shift to clean energy is largely available and getting ever cheaper.

However, the finance required to deploy it on a large enough scale is still lacking, it added, particularly in poor nations.

Inequalities in who produces emissions

Far more than in its previous reports, the IPCC highlighted inequalities in who produces the emissions driving climate change, pointing the finger at the world’s richest as having “the highest potential for emissions reductions”.

The Russia-Ukraine war, like the Covid-19 pandemic, shows how rapidly countries can make dramatic economic changes to deal with an emergency – something most are not yet doing to lower increasingly clear risks from climate change, said Denton.

“Sometimes it’s just about political will – what we’re willing to do,” said the director of the UN University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa.

She questioned the current rush by many wealthy nations to temporarily reopen closed gas and coal facilities to cope with energy shortages brought on by the Ukraine conflict, even as fossil fuel-rich poor countries are exhorted to adopt clean energy.


Tags: Climate Change, Emissions, Fossil Fuels, IPCC
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