The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report

Major tremors rippled throughout the worlds of science and the environment this week with the publication of The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on global warming and its effects.

The report which had initially set the target of keeping global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius now claims that we are completely off track instead heading towards an increase of 3C. The report also confirms that keeping the preferred target of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels will mean “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society.”

The research behind the report took three years to compile and final summary, drawn up by both scientists and lawmakers, bares the tell-tale signs of inevitable compromise. That said there are still key points which do not paint a rosy future for our environment without many changes needed to be implemented.

“The first is that limiting warming to 1.5C brings a lot of benefits compared with limiting it to two degrees. It really reduces the impacts of climate change in very important ways,” said Prof Jim Skea, who co-chairs the IPCC.

“The second is the unprecedented nature of the changes that are required if we are to limit warming to 1.5C – changes to energy systems, changes to the way we manage land, changes to the way we move around with transportation.”

“Scientists might want to write in capital letters, ‘ACT NOW, IDIOTS,’ but they need to say that with facts and numbers,” said Kaisa Kosonen, of Greenpeace, who was an observer at the negotiations. “And they have.”

The facts and figures show a planet demonstrating dangerous environmental behaviour, all caused by humans. In the past a potential rise of 2C was seen as manageable but the report is now claiming this will be much more difficult. Even a rise of 1.5C is risking the planet’s long-term liveability however the report also states that staying below it is possible.

This will require governments to make massive changes involving large-scale investment, approximately 2.5% of every country’s GDP every year. In addition, it would require an explosion of trees and plants to capture carbon as well as mechanical carbon capture solutions which would have to store the greenhouse gas underground forever.

This means annual average investments into our energy systems of around $2.4 trillion until 2035.

“There are costs and benefits you have to weigh up,” said Dr Stephen Cornelius, a former UK IPCC negotiator now with WWF.

“The report also talks about the benefits as there is higher economic growth at 1.5 degrees than there is at 2C and you don’t have the higher risk of catastrophic impacts at 1.5 that you do at two.”

In the past these dangerous scenarios have been, or at least have seemed to have been, in the distant future but this is no longer the case. The hazardous impacts are now predicted to begin to occur within our lifetime. Because of this we can no longer delay the difficult decisions which can out us back on the right track.

It cannot be stressed strongly enough that we do not have much time. If we do not act soon we will have to rely on even more unproven technologies to remove carbon from the atmosphere.

“They really need to start work immediately. The report is clear that if governments just fulfil the pledges they made in the Paris agreement for 2030, it is not good enough. It will make it very difficult to consider global warming of 1.5C,” said Prof Jim Skea.

“If they read the report and decide to increase their ambitions and act more immediately, then 1.5C stays within reach – that’s the nature of the choice they face.”

Campaigners and environmentalists, who have welcomed the report, say there is simply no time left for debate.

“This is the moment where we need to decide” said Kaisa Kosonen. “We want to move to clean energy, sustainable lifestyles. We want to protect our forests and species. This is the moment that we will remember; this is the year when the turning point happened.”

We at ILI think the findings in this report and the consequences of climate change are truly frightening.  However, in Scotland we have an abundance of solutions – onshore wind, offshore wind, solar and batteries.  However, Pumped Storage hydro which has a long history in Scotland dating as far back as 1959, is not in our opinion, currently receiving sufficient attention

It is very clear that Energy Storage has to play an important part to ensure all the surplus energy from wind and solar is not wasted.  We believe that Pumped Storage Hydro makes the most sense as it is a proven technology that can store massive amounts of energy and can remain in use for the next hundred years. We have found the Scottish Government genuinely supportive for all Renewable technologies.  What we now need is for the UK Government to ensure that the market does not discriminate against this Pump Storage Hydro technology.

Our concern is the general public have no idea that there is a proven technology available that can be married to wind and solar to help solve our energy needs and mitigate the need to build any type of carbon intensive assets. Our thinking is that as it was the UK who started the industrial revolution, so we should be at the forefront of making positive changes.  We have the natural resources in this country to make a real difference and stand out as a global leader in Renewables.  Pump Storage Hydro should not be overlooked.


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