NEWS Equitable cumulative emission targets and not net zero is the key to achieving the Paris Agreement’s temperature goals.
- Recently the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has released a report titled ‘Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis’.
- The report is a contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), by (IPCC), Working Group I.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE REPORT
- Although all reports under AR6 are eagerly been awaited, as they will provide a summary assessment of all aspects of the challenge of global warming
- But this particular report has added significance as-
- It is the only one of the four of AR6 to be ready before the 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to be held in Glasgow in November.
SCIENTIFIC ADVANCES IN THE REPORT
- A major scientific advance in this report is the use of multiple lines of evidence (through precise technical methods).
- It has helped to pin down the values and trends of key climatic variables with more accuracy, and narrow their range of uncertainties.
- The value of equilibrium climate sensitivity is now pinned down to the range of 2.5°C to 4.0°C, with a best estimate of 3°C, compared to the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) range of 1.5°C to 4.5°C.
- Value of equilibrium climate sensitivity is the measure of how a specified increase in carbon dioxide concentration translates into long-term surface temperature rise.
- India too has joined the climate modelling fraternity with the inclusion of the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology’s Earth System Model among the climate models used in AR6.
FINDINGS OF THE REPORT
- A significant section of the report reinforces what is already well known, but with updated numbers, higher accuracy and specific regional assessments, including South Asia.
- Global surface temperature is now higher by 1.07oC since the pre-industrial era.
- The impact of climate change on the atmosphere, oceans and land is unmistakably of human origin and this impact is picking up pace.
- There is no part of the inhabited world that is now untouched by the impact of global warming. Carbon dioxide is the dominant source of warming.
- Aerosols contribute to reducing the impact of warming by other greenhouse gases, by almost a third.
- Methane reduction, while needed overall, is particularly significant only as the drastic reduction of aerosols actually leads to an increase in warming.
- The report expectedly projects an increase in climate extremes due to global warming, with heat waves, extreme rainfall events and occurrence of extreme sea levels all expected to intensify and be more frequent.
MAJOR FINDING OF THE REPORT
- A major finding of the report is that air pollution reduction and steep climate change mitigation are not complementary goals but require independent efforts over the short and medium term.
- This is particularly important as the claims of such a linkage have been used to argue that India, for instance, must cease the use of coal immediately, despite its continuing importance as the key element of the country’s energy security.
- While massive campaigns mounted on net zero have been led by the developed countries, the report asserts the conclusion from past reports and scientific literature reports.
- It has made clear that reaching net zero was not the determining factor for the world to limit itself to a 1.5oC , or 2oC, or indeed any specific temperature increase.
- Instead it is the cumulative emissions in reaching net zero that determine the temperature rise.
INDIA Vs GLOBAL EMISSIONS
- India has contributed less than 5% of global cumulative emissions to date, with per capita annual emissions a third of the global average.
- India is also the only nation among the G20 with commitments under the Paris Agreement that are even 2oC warming-compatible.
- Thus, India with annual emissions at 3 billion tonnes in carbon dioxide equivalent terms, even if it manages to cease its emissions for the next 30 years, while others emissions remaining the same, can buy the world only less than two years of additional time for meeting the Paris Agreement temperature goals.
INDIA STAND ON THE REPORT
- India’s Ministry for Environment, Forest and Climate Change was quick to note the point made by the report about net zero in a statement.
- It further added that “historical cumulative emissions are the cause of the climate crisis that the world faces today.”
- It also noted that the “developed countries had usurped far more than their fair share of the global carbon budget.”
- The limitations of the remaining carbon budget for 1.5oC are so stringent that they cannot be met by promises of net zero 30 years from now.
- With the present pace of emission the world is set to cross the 1.5oC limit within 10-15 years.
- The need of the hour is to:
- focus on definite cumulative emission targets keeping equity and historical responsibility in view,
- immediate emission reductions by the developed countries with phase-out dates for all fossil fuels,
- massive investment in new technologies and their deployment,
- a serious push to the mobilisation of adequate climate finance.
This is the message that the IPCC report has sent to this year’s climate summit and the world.