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UN report makes clear that we are running out of time to secure a liveable planet

1 Mar 2022

UN Report Makes Clear We Are Running Out Of Time To Secure A Liveable Planet

Yesterday’s IPCC report on the impacts of climate change [note 1] shows the science is clear: we are running out of time to secure a liveable planet for humans and nature.

The report calls for urgent action to respond to accelerating climate risks, and presents adaptation solutions with a focus on cities and climate resilient development. It paints a stark picture of a world in climate breakdown. The following three points from the report are particularly concerning:

  1. Climate change is already causing dangerous and widespread disruption to human well-being and the health of the planet. The Report warns that exceeding 1.5C of warming (even temporarily) will result in unavoidable extreme impacts.
  2. Between 3.3–3.6 billion people live in countries that are highly vulnerable to climate change. Almost all of these countries are in the global South, and are suffering the brunt of climate change. Between 2010-2020, deaths from extreme weather events in high vulnerability regions was 15-times higher than in very low vulnerability regions [2]. These impacts will increase significantly in the coming years, and some are now an irreversible reality.
  3. Climate change impacts are increasingly complex and difficult to manage. For example, weather extremes (such as heat waves, droughts, floods) occurring simultaneously expose millions to food and water insecurity in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Small Islands, and the Arctic.

Commenting, Conor O’Neill, Head of Policy with Christian Aid, a member organisation of Stop Climate Chaos said:

Today’s IPCC report is the latest in a long list of warnings about the cost to people and planet of failing to take rapid and drastic climate action. Countries on the climate crisis frontline must be financially supported to cope with the impacts of rising global temperatures. 

Ireland has a good track record in funding adaptation projects, but we’re still falling well short of our fair share. We should be contributing roughly €500m per year, but the current target of €225m set for 2025 is just not enough. 

The entire continent of Africa, now home to over 1.3 billion people, is responsible for less than 4% of historic global emissions. This glaring inequality is recognised in successive climate treaties, where wealthy states responsible for the crisis pledged to provide financial support to help developing countries adapt, but targets have been badly missed.

Caoimhe de Barra, CEO of Trócaire, a member organisation of Stop Climate Chaos said:

"Today's IPPC report is a depressing and stark reminder of the disproportionate impact of climate change, with poorer countries who have contributed least to climate change suffering most. The global South is bearing the brunt of climate impacts, suffering more than 90% of the costs of climate change, and 98% of the deaths associated with climate breakdown. 

We are in an emergency, and we need world leaders to act like we are in an emergency. The clock is ticking. Richer countries must pay their fair share of climate finance and respond to the loss and damages that people are enduring.”

Climate adaptation policies and plans are growing, but there are serious lags in financing and the costs of adaptation have been severely underestimated. Most countries in the global South are unable to make the necessary adaptations without significantly more funding. At COP26, developed countries made commitments to double adaptation finance by 2025 (compared to 2019 levels), but this doubling falls far short of the 100 billion goal. This is particularly concerning given that 300bn a year will be needed for climate adaptation by 2030, growing to 500bn a year by 2050. Rich countries, who are responsible for the vast majority of polluting emissions, have an obligation to provide such finance [3].

Dr. Bríd Walsh, Stop Climate Chaos Policy Coordinator said:

The Report makes clear the need for decisive and systemic action to increase climate finance flows to poorer countries, to phase-out fossil fuel subsidies, and secure a fair and fast transition to renewable energy. The Irish Government now needs to adopt a much stronger leadership role at EU and International level to increase climate finance [4], respond to irreversible impacts (‘loss and damage’) [5] and support an urgent phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies [6].

We particularly urge the Government to prioritise these areas as part of the development of the Climate Finance Roadmap and Climate Diplomacy Strategy which are due by the end of March, and end of June 2022, respectivelyDomestically, the Government must respond to  deficiencies identified by the Climate Change Advisory Council which warned that several sectors had made little to no progress in climate adaptation. It’s vital that Ireland gets this right to avoid exposing more people to greater risk.”

ENDS

Notes:

  1. See IPCC report here - https://report.ipcc.ch/ar6wg2/pdf/IPCC_AR6_WGII_SummaryForPolicymakers.pdf
  2. The global South is bearing the brunt of climate impacts - such as droughts, floods, famines, storms, sea level rise and death. The global South suffers more than 90% of the costs of climate breakdown, and 98% of the deaths associated with climate breakdown. See more here and here.
  3. The global North (i.e. United States, Canada, Europe, Israel, Australia, New Zealand and Japan) is responsible for 92% of all excess global carbon dioxide emissions. The Global South is responsible for only 8% of excess global carbon dioxide emissions. For more see here. Countries in the global North used up their fair share of the global carbon budget many years ago. US citizens used up their fair share by 1936, the UK by 1945, and Germany by 1963. These debts bring responsibility to both quickly transition to zero emissions and finance mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage in the global South.
  4. Ireland should contribute its fair share towards climate finance. This means that our contribution need to be increased from €225m a year by 2025 to €500m according to analysis by Trócaire and Christian Aid. Ireland is also due to update the National Adaptation Framework in 2022. 
  5. At COP26, rich countries (including the EU) blocked poor countries' calls for the establishment of a “Loss and Damage Finance Facility” to help deal with irreversible climate impacts. The Irish government should take a leadership role and actively support the development of a Loss and Damage Finance Facility at COP27 and challenge the EU on its blocking stance.
  6. Ireland should prioritise the urgent phase-out of polluting fossil fuel subsidies internationally and at home. The Irish government has committed to develop a roadmap to transition away from fossil fuel subsidies by March 2024. This is much too late and is inconsistent with our national and international climate obligations.

Summary of key IPCC findings:

IPCC Summary for Policymakers: https://report.ipcc.ch/ar6wg2/pdf/IPCC_AR6_WGII_SummaryForPolicymakers.pdf

Headline Statements: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg2/resources/spm-headline-statements/

Regional Factsheets: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg2/about/factsheets/

 

News reports:

RTE: IPCC warns of multiple 'unavoidable' climate hazards with 1.5C warming

Irish Times: Ireland must step up support for vulnerable countries, say climate campaigners

Examiner'Hard and unpopular decisions' needed after stark UN climate report

Guardian: This climate crisis report asks: what is at stake? In short, everything

 

Press Releases:

Trocáire: https://www.trocaire.org/news/trocaire-says-devastating-ipcc-report-a-grave-reminder-the-world-must-act-now-to-prevent-humanitarian-catastrophe-due-to-climate-change/

Oxfam: https://www.oxfamireland.org/blog/press-releases

WMO: https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/wmo-secretary-general-prof-petteri-taalas-addresses-ipcc-report-launch

Potsdam Institute: https://www.pik-potsdam.de/en/news/latest-news/pik-lead-authors-on-ipcc-report-on-climate-impacts

Statement from Minister Ryan: https://www.gov.ie/en/press-release/52b4e-statement-from-minister-ryan-on-todays-ipcc-report-on-the-impacts-of-climate-change/

 

Response from academia:

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-00585-7

 

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