The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on on 13 April 2014 released its third report  IPCC AR5 WG3 report on mitigation  setting out the evidence on climate change mitigation (how to cut greenhouse gas emissions).

This follows its two previous reports: 1st: on the physical science of what is happening to the planet, and 2nd: on the impacts for humans and ecosystems. The Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change IPCC report by Working Group III addressed mitigation options globally and across sectors. 

The report sends out a stark message: 

  • Our current trajectory could see us reach a devastating 5 degrees of warming by 2100.
  • To avoid this, we need a dramatic reduction in fossil fuel use and a corresponding increase in the use of renewable energy.
  • Spending on energy efficiency and low carbon technology needs to be very significantly increased.

 The report itself consists of thousands of pages. The report's summary, is much more manageable, at just 33 pages, although it is important to note that the summary represents the scientists' findings as filtered through governmental negotiations. References to wealth being transferred from rich to poor nations, the rise in emissions from upper middle income countries, and indirect land use change relating to biofuels were all removed from the summary. 

Carbon brief provides a good general summary of the report, as does the Climate Justice Campaign and  the Guardian.

The report’s core message sets a challenge to all of us, particularly in nations such as the UK, whose wealth has been built on historic emissions. This is a critical time to act on climate change and create momentum.

WinACC issued this news release:

Winchester climate charity WinACC welcomes the latest working group report from the United Nations IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) as a call to action.

The IPCC says there is no doubt that the global climate is getting warmer. Each of the last three decades has been warmer than any preceding decade since 1850. The Earth is likely to warm by at least 1.5°C and more likely 2°C by the end of this century. It is already almost 1°C warmer than in 1880.

Unless we cut greenhouse gases, we will reach temperatures around 4°C within 100 years. Five reasons for concern if warming exceeds 1.8°C identified by the IPCC are threatened ecosystems, loss of biodiversity, extreme weather events and the effects of abrupt and irreversible changes, so-called tipping points.

Chris Holloway, Executive Director of WinACC, said “Will there be anyone here to mark the 200th anniversary of the first world war in 2114? These reports are a wake-up call to action. There is no disagreement among scientists. Human influence on the climate is clear.”

Over half of the warming in the last 60 years is the result of our behaviour, especially releasing greenhouse gas by burning fossil fuels. There are more greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) in the atmosphere now than in the last 800,000 years. And we are still increasing our emissions.

People are already suffering the consequences of climate change, including here in the UK, with more heavy rain, heat waves, floods and drought. “Hampshire won’t escape” said Bob Whitmarsh, Chair of WinACC’s Science and Technology Advisory Panel. “The consequences of climate change will be inland floods, heat waves, coastal flooding and even drought. SE England has already been described as an area of ‘serious water stress’ by the Environment Agency.”

The IPCC report says that it is still possible for humanity to save itself, and that we can afford the cost. But we need to act now. The longer we take to change, the more it will cost.

They say that to keep the temperature rise below 2°C by 2100, we need large-scale changes in the amount of energy we use, how it is generated, and how we use the land. We also need better energy efficiency. We now have much better and cheaper renewable energy technologies, such as electricity from wind, hydro and solar, though these technologies need support to grow. Zero‐ and low‐carbon energy from renewables needs to grow three- to four-fold.

WinACC applauds the situation in Hampshire where several solar farms already have planning permission or are being built, plans are afoot to install solar panels on schools and other large roofs, and permission is being sought for wind farms. “In the light of the IPPC report, we should take every opportunity to use the many natural renewable resources that are available in our District, such as solar, wind and sustainable wood fuel.  Each local community should seek to identify how it can contribute and can benefit from the results” said Richard Ritchie, who chairs the WinACC Renewable Energy Action Group.

The IPCC says that we may also need nuclear energy, and we shall need to capture and store the carbon dioxide that comes from fossil fuel power stations or bioenergy by the year 2050. There are barriers and risks to using nuclear power and to carbon capture and storage. On the other hand, the complete world-wide removal of subsidies for fossil fuels could reduce emissions by mid-century. We need international cooperation. This will be most successful if we address equity, justice and fairness at the same time.

Time is of the essence. It is very clear that, from international bodies such as the United Nations down to individuals, we must all do more to reduce our emissions if today’s children and future generations are to enjoy a safe, stable and sustainable life on planet Earth.

WinACC’s next two meetings follow the IPCC reports.

On 13 May at 7.30 at the United Church in Jewry St, Dr Bob Marsh of  Southampton University will lead a discussion on Our Changing Climate: Flooding, drought and climate change - what can we do?  

On Saturday, 7 June 2014 - 10:30am to 12:00 at St. Lawrence's Parish Room, Colebrook Street, Winchester, SO23 9LH. WinACC will unveil new targets for cutting our carbon footprint and creating renewable energy up to 2020, with a coherent, detailed plan that shows how we could achieve our targets. Winchester City Council leader has been invited to join the discussion about how we can all contribute to creating a low carbon Winchester District. 

Notes for Editors: 

  1. This is the third and last of the three working group reports forming the IPCC Fifth Assessment, based on reviews of hundreds of scientific research papers published up to 2013. The Fourth Assessment was published in 2007.
  2. The IPCC’s Summary for Policymakers from each of its three Working Groups can be downloaded from: http://wg1.ipcc.ch/, http://www.ipcc-wg2.gov/index.html and http://www.ipcc-wg3.de/.
  3. Winchester Action on Climate Change (WinACC) aims to cut the carbon footprint of Winchester district.  Its members include local residents, businesses and local government, working together to create a better future.  
  4. WinACC runs regular meetings throughout the year to get the Winchester district community engaged in climate change and lowering carbon emissions.
  5. For further information visit winacc.org.uk or call Chris Holloway, Director on 01962 827083 / 07779 283451 or email press@winacc.org.uk
  6. Winchester Action on Climate Change Ltd is a company limited by guarantee in England and Wales with company registration no. 08013043. Our registered office is Room 163, Main Building, University of Winchester, Sparkford Road, Winchester SO22 4NR. We are also a registered charity in England and Wales with charity no 1150754.