Mixed reaction to climate change report

By Desmond Davies, GNA’s London Bureau Chief 

London, Oct. 26, GNA – The report by the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that was released last week
has received mixed reaction from Africa and elsewhere as the debate on limiting
the impact of emissions continued.

The main issue looked at has been how to limit
global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (1.5°C) by 2030 in order to stop
temperatures rising that would cause natural disasters around the world.

In the case of Africa, Oxfam has warned that
rising temperatures would push millions of people into poverty and hunger
unless governments take swift action. 

Apollos Nwafor, Pan-Africa Director of Oxfam
International, said: “The faster governments embrace the renewable energy
revolution and move to protect communities at risk, the more lives and
livelihoods that will be spared.

“Oxfam calls for increased, responsible and
accountable climate finance from rich countries that support small-scale
farmers, especially women to realise their right to food security and climate
justice.

“While time is short, there is still a chance
of keeping to 1.5°C of warming.”

The IPCC report was commissioned over three
years ago in Paris by the world’s governments to take a much closer look at the
impact of emissions on the environment – especially the effect an increase
would have on human existence.   

Climate negotiators from almost 200 countries
are due to meet in Poland in December at the next annual round of talks where
the IPCC report is certain to be cited and quoted by negotiators from various
countries.

One of the claims in the global warming debate
has been that extraction of fossil fuels has played a major part in stoking up
the temperatures.

Coal has come in for special attention but
there is continued argument on this issue.

Supporters of coal-fired electricity point out
that, technological advances have made coal production less of a threat to the
environment.

Australia, for example, which relies heavily
on the coal industry, has said that it would continue to exploit this fossil
fuel.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said
that this was because Australia’s coal industry provided 60 per cent of the
country’s electricity and 50,000 jobs.

In South Africa, coal has been dominant in the
production of electricity for decades, with the fossil fuel producing 88 per
cent of the country’s power in 2017.

South Africa, as the world’s seventh largest
coal producer, submitted its climate pledge, or “nationally determined
contribution” (NDC), for the Paris climate talks in September 2015.

The document noted the “overriding priorities
to eliminate poverty and eradicate inequality” in the face of “acute energy
challenges that hamper economic development”.

Experts have acknowledged that cheap and
reliable electricity is fundamental to tackling poverty.

World Bank President Jim Yong Kim has said
that “everyone in the world should have 20 hours a day of electricity,
instead of being able to get electricity only when the sun is shining”.

But the Bank has stopped financing clean coal
technology projects in developing countries that would make them
self-sufficient in electricity production, which is vital to help grow their
economies and reduce poverty.

US President Donald Trump has called for
multilateral development banks such as the World Bank to remove restrictions on
funding clean coal production.

The IPCC report acknowledges that limiting
warming to 1.5°C will require the use of “negative emissions technologies”
(NETs) – methods that remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

In the report, these techniques are referred
to as “carbon dioxide removal” (CDR).

Experts say that NETs take more CO2 out of the
atmosphere than they put in. They point out that no one single technology can
solve climate change, but many have been proposed that could contribute to
reducing atmospheric CO2.

The World Coal Association (WCA) said it
“believes that any pathway that does not emphasise the importance of carbon
capture and storage (CCS) is not realistic, given the world’s continued
reliance on fossil fuels”.

It noted that some 75 per cent of the world’s
energy “still comes from fossil fuels and with the world’s energy demand set to
rise, fossil fuels – including coal – will continue to power up many
economies”.

Reacting to the IPCC report, the WCA said:
“Given the continued role of fossil fuels, it’s essential that we support
countries to use zero emission technologies, like CCS, which allows them to
meet climate targets while at the same time meeting economic imperatives.

“The IEA notes that faster deployment of CCS
could support the shift from 2°C to the Paris Agreement target of well below
2°C,”

The WCA continued: “We’ll be more successful
in meeting climate targets if we focus on addressing emissions instead of
trying to get rid of a fuel that many rely on for economic development.

“Governments need to direct efforts to
advancing CCS technology, which the IPCC itself sees as one of the critical
solutions to decarbonising energy systems.

“The IPCC has stated in previous reports that
without CCS, it will be 138 per cent more expensive to meet the 2°C climate
goal.”

The IPCC report said that limiting global
warming to 1.5°C would require “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in land,
energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities.

“The good news is that some of the kinds of
actions that would be needed to limit global warming to 1.5ºC are already
underway around the world, but they would need to accelerate,” said Valerie
Masson-Delmotte, Co-Chair of the IPCC Working Group I.

“This report gives policymakers and
practitioners the information they need to make decisions that tackle climate
change while considering local context and people’s needs.

“The next few years are probably the most
important in our history,” she said.

Jim Skea, Co- Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group
III, said: “Limiting warming to 1.5ºC is possible within the laws of chemistry
and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes.”

GNA

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