A relevant quote from this press release: “In 2018, IPCC highlighted the unprecedented scale of the challenge required to keep warming to 1.5°C. Five years later, that challenge has become even greater due to a continued increase in greenhouse gas emissions. The pace and scale of what has been done so far, and current plans, are insufficient to tackle climate change.”
Whether we read the local media, or the international press releases and news releases by the COP, one thing is clear. The transition to a more sustainable energy system is not progressing as one would hope for.
From the COP 27 website, we quote the following:
On 20 November, the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27), that took place in the Egyptian coastal city of Sharm el-Sheikh, concluded with a historic decision to establish and operationalize a loss and damage fund.
Welcoming the decision and calling the fund essential, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that more needs to be done to drastically reduce emissions now. “The world still needs a giant leap on climate ambition.” “The red line we must not cross is the line that takes our planet over the 1.5 degree temperature limit,” he stressed, urging the world not to relent “in the fight for climate justice and climate ambition.” “We can and must win this battle for our lives,” he concluded.
From 6 to 20 November, COP27 held high-level and side events, key negotiations, and press conferences, hosting more than 100 Heads of State and Governments, over 35,000 participants and numerous pavilions.
This is a positive result, but scrolling through the statements and comments issued by various media, I conclude that the COP hasn’t resulted in the necessary actions. That only last-minute steps were taken, show an underlying problem: fundamental different views on how to tackle the issue of climate change and how to finance its costly measures.
Few recent quotes from the UN Secretary-General describing the concerns:
“COP27 is scheduled to wrap up in 24 hours but countries remain divided on several significant issues including ‘loss and damage’, the UN Secretary-General said on Thursday, urging parties to rise to the urgency of the moment and agree on real solutions to solve the greatest challenge facing humanity. “
“There is clearly a breakdown in trust between North and South, and between developed and emerging economies. This is no time for finger-pointing. The blame game is a recipe for mutually assured destruction,” António Guterres told journalists at the Sharm el-Sheikh International Conference Centre. The UN chief urged countries to deliver the kind of meaningful action that people, and the planet, so desperately need. “The world is watching and has a simple message: stand and deliver,” he underscored.
For some time now, I haven’t published a blog as I’m wondering more and more about our energy systems and executed approaches in the Western world. Looking particularly at the Netherlands, I’m not so hopeful that we will meet the 2030 targets, let alone the one’s for 2050. My believe in nuclear power is growing by the day, as this will speed up the transition, besides the necessary growth in solar and wind energy, and use of renewable gases. Sure, we’ll introduce other risks, but what’s worse ? But irrespective of the above, our collective focus should be on an integral approach of addressing climate change in a responsible way.
The COP26 UN Climate Change Conference, hosted by the UK in partnership with Italy, is taking place from 31 October to 12 November 2021 in Glasgow, UK. Let’s see what the outcome of this latest conference will be regarding new climate goals, and required actions on various levels. Despite the past COP’s and pledges made in these conferences by world leaders, is the current assessment of global climate change still extremely worrying.
The report summarized the Outlook as follows: “This annual publication is stipulated by the Dutch Climate Act and regarded as one of the accountability instruments of Dutch climate and energy policy. Taking adopted and proposed policies as the point of reference, Dutch greenhouse gas emissions are expected to decrease by between 38% and 48% in 2030, compared to 1990 levels. This means that the government’s emission reduction target of 49% by 2030 is not yet in view.” For further details, please click here.
The Dutch page of this website provides more summarised information; click here by accessing this page.
Reference to other articles/blogs
In the past, many blogs have appeared on our website; we would like to refer to our “News and events” section (click here).
A recent article was about the IPCC and Climate Change (click here).
It’s clear that worldwide we pay a lot of attention to “Climate change and its impact on the world and its population”. Fortunately, many good actions are taking place, which are already showing results. And we can also praise all individual actions by citizens, and joint local initiatives by energy cooperatives/energy commons. But it’s still far from enough. So, we are all very curious what will be written in the newspapers on November 13, 2021 when the COP26 has ended, hopefully successfully, the day before.
A lot has been written and stated in the media, but we would like to focus the readers of this blog on the following link. For the report summary, full contents and other information, please refer to: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/#SPM . Note: IPCC stands for “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change”.
The conclusions are pretty straightforward, and to a large extent already known to many of us focusing on climate changes and required actions. Few quotes from the IPCC have been outlined below. Also worthwhile to read and study is the regional information, which can be explored in detail in the newly developed Interactive Atlas of IPCC (https://interactive-atlas.ipcc.ch/).
We sometimes read criticisms on the IPCC report in the media. Some state that the scenarios are too pessimistic, etc. We only have one simple response to this: “If the patient is ill, and the causes are not 100% known, all precautionary measures must be undertaken to ensure that the patient will continue to live, and that no unnecessary risks are taken”. Globally, the IPCC reports are regarded as leading; also because there must be international consensus before they are published.
Some quotes from the IPCC, and they have been printed in “Italics”, in order not to lose the essence of the message provided:
“Many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, and some of the changes already set in motion—such as continued sea level rise—are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years.”
“However, strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases would limit climate change. While benefits for air quality would come quickly, it could take 20-30 years to see global temperatures stabilize.”
“The report provides new estimates of the chances of crossing the global warming level of 1.5°C in the next decades, and finds that unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach.”
“The report shows that emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are responsible for approximately 1.1°C of warming since 1850-1900, and finds that averaged over the next 20 years, global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5°C of warming. This assessment is based on improved observational datasets to assess historical warming, as well progress in scientific understanding of the response of the climate system to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.”
Every region facing increasing changes:
“Many characteristics of climate change directly depend on the level of global warming, but what people experience is often very different to the global average. For example, warming over land is larger than the global average, and it is more than twice as high in the Arctic.”
“The report projects that in the coming decades climate changes will increase in all regions. For 1.5°C of global warming, there will be increasing heat waves, longer warm seasons and shorter cold seasons. At 2°C of global warming, heat extremes would more often reach critical tolerance thresholds for agriculture and health, the report shows.”
“But it is not just about temperature. Climate change is bringing multiple different changes in different regions – which will all increase with further warming. These include changes to wetness and dryness, to winds, snow and ice, coastal areas and oceans. For example:
Climate change is intensifying the water cycle. This brings more intense rainfall and associated flooding, as well as more intense drought in many regions.
Climate change is affecting rainfall patterns. In high latitudes, precipitation is likely to increase, while it is projected to decrease over large parts of the subtropics. Changes to monsoon precipitation are expected, which will vary by region.
Coastal areas will see continued sea level rise throughout the 21st century, contributing to more frequent and severe coastal flooding in low-lying areas and coastal erosion. Extreme sea level events that previously occurred once in 100 years could happen every year by the end of this century.
Further warming will amplify permafrost thawing, and the loss of seasonal snow cover, melting of glaciers and ice sheets, and loss of summer Arctic sea ice.
For cities, some aspects of climate change may be amplified, including heat (since urban areas are usually warmer than their surroundings), flooding from heavy precipitation events and sea level rise in coastal cities.”
Human influence on the past and future climate:
“The report also shows that human actions still have the potential to determine the future course of climate. The evidence is clear that carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main driver of climate change, even as other greenhouse gases and air pollutants also affect the climate.”
“Stabilizing the climate will require strong, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and reaching net zero CO2 emissions. Limiting other greenhouse gases and air pollutants, especially methane, could have benefits both for health and the climate,” according to the IPCC report.
In this IEA report, it’s mentioned that cities account for more than 50% of the global population, 80% of global GDP, two-thirds of global energy consumption and more than 70% of annual global carbon emissions. According to IEA, these factors are expected to grow significantly in the coming decades: it is anticipated that by 2050 more than 70% of the world’s population will live in cities, resulting in massive growth in demand for urban energy infrastructure. Read more by clicking here ……
On July 14, 2021, the European Commission adopted a package of proposals to make the EU’s climate, energy, land use, transport and taxation policies fit for reducing net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. Quite a lot has been published in the media about these plans, but we only refer to the following link, which clearly shows the details. Please click here for further information ……
It continues to be worthwhile to read IEA articles and commentaries on various energy developments.
In a recent article by the IEA (for details click here), the authors emphasise the fact that fossil fuel subsidies are creating an uneven playing field for clean energy. IEA organisation monitors energy prices that consumers pay around the world, and compares them with so-called reference prices. In this way the IEA estimates the size of subsidies over time.
In the context of aiming for a sustainable world, this article shows that there is still quite some work to do internationally.
Despite an interesting recent article in the Dutch FD (*), by Mathijs Bouman, on the accuracy of forecasting by IEA, I continue to find the IEA reports very worthwhile to read and reflect upon. There is indeed a potential danger that, in case forecasts are too pessimistic, this could create unwanted actions. Nevertheless, it’s better to be safe than sorry with all negative consequences. (*): the article published in FD (Financial Daily newspaper) on May 15, 2021 outlined the views of a columnist that the advance of solar energy is systematically underestimated by the IEA.
IEA reported, amongst others, the following insights:
“Climate pledges by governments to date – even if fully achieved – are well short of what’s required to bring global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions to net zero by 2050.”
“Our pathway requires the immediate and massive deployment of all available clean and efficient energy technologies. That includes annual additions of solar PV to reaching 630 gigawatts by 2030, and those of wind power reaching 390 gigawatts. Together, that’s four times the record level set in 2020.”
“Most of the global reductions in CO2 emissions between now and 2030 in our net zero pathway come from technologies already on the market today. But in 2050, almost half the reductions come from technologies that are currently only at the demonstration or prototype phase. This calls for major innovation progress this decade.”
“A rise in CO2 emissions of almost 5% in 2021 compared to 2020.”
“Global energy demand is set to increase by 4.6% in 2021, more than offsetting the 4% contraction in 2020 and pushing demand 0.5% above 2019 levels.”
“Demand for renewables grew by 3% in 2020 and is set to increase across all key sectors – power, heating, industry and transport – in 2021. The power sector leads the way, with its demand for renewables on course to expand by more than 8% in 2021.”
“Solar PV and wind are expected to contribute two-thirds of renewables’ growth.”
Food for thought when reading the latest message from the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, made at the opening of the recent 2-day Leaders’ Summit on Climate, who called on leaders everywhere to take urgent climate action: “Mother Nature is not waiting”, he said. “We need a green planet — but the world is on red alert.” Click here for more details.