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 ……
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.
The Summit is an important event on the road to COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021. It brought together decisionmakers and representatives of more than 40 countries covering more than 80% of global GDP, population and emissions. Focus was on the critical need for international collaboration and policy implementation to accelerate clean energy transitions. On May 18, the IEA will publish a wide-ranging roadmap for the global energy sector to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Good to continue monitoring these important developments.
We read with interest a recent article in the Dutch newspaper FD, in which prominent figures of the political party D66 advise the next Dutch government to seriously consider a role for nuclear energy from 2030. Our advice is to do this from a European perspective.
We would therefore like to recommend the politicians and readers of this website to also read the 2010 study by the European Climate Foundation (ECF). We have written about this before in previous blogs, but we would like to make reference to the Roadmap 2050 website again; https://www.roadmap2050.eu/. The various reports (Roadmap 2050 (click here), Power Perspective 2030 (click here)) also clearly describe the role of nuclear energy. We understand the concerns and questions about how to deal with radioactive waste, but we believe that responsible solutions are (will be) available.
The Commission’s proposal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 sets Europe on a responsible path to becoming climate neutral by 2050.
Based on a comprehensive impact assessment, the Commission has proposed to increase the EU’s ambition on reducing greenhouse gases and set this more ambitious path for the next 10 years. The assessment shows how all sectors of the economy and society can contribute, and sets out the policy actions required to achieve this goal.
Set a more ambitious and cost-effective path to achieving climate neutrality by 2050
Stimulate the creation of green jobs and continue the EU’s track record of cutting greenhouse gas emissions whilst growing its economy
Encourage international partners to increase their ambition to limit the rise in global temperature to 1.5°C and avoid the most severe consequences of climate change
With this latest reduction, the ambitions of the EU significantly increase: a reduction of 40 percent had previously been agreed. Hence great news !
But there is a lot of work to do, to achieve this. However, this new plan creates various opportunities for us.
The WMO always reports very relevant information. In one of their latest bulletins, the following, amongst others, was stated:
“Carbon dioxide levels saw another growth spurt in 2019 and the annual global average breached the significant threshold of 410 parts per million, according to the WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin. The rise has continued in 2020. Since 1990, there has been a 45% increase in total radiative forcing – the warming effect on the climate – by long-lived greenhouse gases, with CO2 accounting for four fifths of this.”
“Carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for centuries and in the ocean for even longer. The last time the Earth experienced a comparable concentration of CO2 was 3-5 million years ago, when the temperature was 2-3°C warmer and sea level was 10-20 meters higher than now. But there weren’t 7.7 billion inhabitants,” said WMO Secretary-General Professor Petteri Taalas.
“We breached the global threshold of 400 parts per million in 2015. And just four years later, we crossed 410 ppm. Such a rate of increase has never been seen in the history of our records. The lockdown-related fall in emissions is just a tiny blip on the long-term graph. We need a sustained flattening of the curve,” said Prof Taalas. “The COVID-19 pandemic is not a solution for climate change. However, it does provide us with a platform for more sustained and ambitious climate action to reduce emissions to net zero through a complete transformation of our industrial, energy and transport systems. The needed changes are economically affordable and technically possible and would affect our everyday life only marginally. It is to be welcomed that a growing number of countries and companies have committed themselves to carbon neutrality,” he said. “There is no time to lose.”