Justin may be heading for his comeuppance over the next few months. For starters, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is about to release its next report and the news isn't good for petro-pols.
This week, scientists are gathering in South Korea to draw together the last five years of advances in climate science to answer key questions for policymakers. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) celebrates its 30th birthday this year with what is likely to be a landmark report to be released on Monday 8 October. What is expected to emerge will be the strongest warning yet that these unusual occurrences will add up to a pattern that can only be overcome with drastic action.
...This time, the scientists will attempt to answer whether and how the world can meet the “aspiration” set in the Paris agreement of 2015 to hold warming to no more than 1.5C, beyond which many low-lying states and islands are likely to face dangerous sea level rises.
When the scientists deliver their verdict, the onus will pass to politicians to translate their advice into concrete action. Already in recent weeks, global initiatives have begun aimed at doing so: the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco last month spurred protests, and dozens of local governments and multinational companies to make pledges; the second One Planet Summit saw advances in climate finance; while at the UN General Assembly, secretary general António Guterres urged world leaders to step up, calling climate change “the defining issue of our time”.
...Nicholas Stern, co-chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, said: “Current economic models fail to capture both the powerful dynamics and very attractive qualities of new technologies and structures [that reduce carbon]. Thus we know that we are grossly underestimating the benefits of this new growth story. Further, it becomes ever clearer that the risks of the damage from climate change are immense, and tipping points and irreversibilities getting ever closer.”Under Harper, Canada was regularly labeled a "climate pariah." Time is fast approaching for Trudeau to prove that he's no Harper. A 50-year dilbit pipeline is going to be hard to explain away.
The existence of tipping points – thresholds of temperature beyond which certain natural processes become irreversible, such as the melting of permafrost, which may release the greenhouse gas methane and create runaway warming effects – is a key concern of many climate scientists. The faster emissions rise, the sooner we may unwittingly pass some of these key points.
For all these reasons, the IPCC’s special report comes at a crucial point. Scientists and economists have warned that if the world cannot shift course within the next few years, the consequences will be dire, as new infrastructure built now – in energy generation, transport and the built environment – will be made either to low-emissions standards or in the high-emissions habits of the past. As the IPCC’s next comprehensive assessment of climate science will not be available until 2021, this year’s report will be vital in shaping policy.