'The package currently on the table is perilously inadequate': Green economy reacts to new IPCC report
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Working Group 1 has published a major new report outlining how the severity of the physical impacts of the climate crisis will grow without immediate and deep cuts to emissions. Here, edie rounds up the key pieces of reaction from across the UK's green economy.
Published today (9 August) ahead of a full Sixth Assessment Report due this October, the report confirms that the global temperature increase from pre-industrial times has already passed 1.1C, with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5C trajectory likely to be breached by 2040.
But it also states that a window does exist to put the world on track to avoiding the worst impacts of climate change – albeit a very slim one, given that the current trajectory is for at least 3C of warming from pre-industrial times by 2100. The report urges nations to strive for a halving of emissions this decade and net-zero carbon by 2050 as a minimum.
The IPCC has described the report as a “reality check” and urged world leaders, policymakers and negotiators to use its findings as the basis of their approach at the COP26 talks, taking place in Glasgow in November.
With less than three months to go until the event, discussions are becoming livelier. Here, edie rounds up all the key reactionary statements to the IPCC Working Group 1’s new report, taking in insight from spaces including the private sector, policy research, environmental charity and climate law.
Green Finance Institute chief executive Dr Rhian-Mari Thomas said:
“The IPCC report sets out the risks posed by our changing climate in substantial detail. This makes for difficult reading, but confirms the scale of the emergency we face. This updated scientific consensus must now be fully reflected in debt and equity valuations, and finance must be rapidly deployed towards sustainable and resilient solutions. This will require brave decision-making and unprecedented collaboration between public, private and philanthropic capital providers. But if we can identify the appropriate sources of funding and co-design the financial mechanisms needed by sector - and situation - to adapt, then we will transition the real economy to create a better future.”
The UN’s Special Envoy for Climate and Finance Mark Carney said:
“The IPCC's assessment is critical to understanding the scale of the climate crisis, and the policy and strategic responses required to address it. The ambition of these policy, business and financing decisions must be based on the science, including the reality of the world's rapidly diminishing carbon budget and the fast-increasing physical risks to people and planet. The IPCC report is a must-read for boards and its implications are an imperative for immediate strategic action.”
The International Centre for Climate Change and Development’s director Professor Saleemul Huq said:
“The new IPCC report is not a drill but the final warning that bubble of empty promises is about to burst. G20 countries rapidly need to switch gears and this time stick to the pledges of delivering policies that ensure that we don’t exceed 1.5C warming by the end of the century. It’s suicidal and economically irrational to keep procrastinating. The course of action is crystal clear."
The Climate Group’s chief executive Helen Clarkson said:
“This is a stark and jolting report that reinforces how urgently immediate action is needed to slash emissions. We are now nearly two years into the Climate Decade, in which we must halve emissions by 2030. It will require bravery and resilience. Businesses, cities, national governments, and states and regions all have a significant role to play in moving towards a net-zero carbon economy. Every decision, every investment, every target, needs to have the climate at its core.
“The last two years have shown us that, when significant change is needed, policymakers, leaders, and civil society can act boldly to create swift action. With COP26 on the horizon, this is the last chance that decision-makers have to align ambitious talk with financial backing, innovation, and action. There needs to be compromise on all sides, and a serious desire to reach conclusive ways forward. There are no more shortcuts left to take.”
Christian Aid’s climate policy lead Dr Kat Kramer said:
“Science has spoken: urgent climate action is needed to cut emissions rapidly and deeply or the whole world, especially the people on the frontline, will be plunged further into peril and poverty.
“This IPCC report puts carbon dioxide emissions firmly in the firing line, reinforcing the need for net-zero emissions. These findings clearly show the need to end the fossil fuel era and to move to a future based on efficiency and renewables, while creating access to energy for those in poorer countries that currently lack it.
“So far political will to act has been wildly inadequate. Current national pledges put us on a pathway to a 2.4ºC world, which the IPCC shows would sentence people to more and fiercer heatwaves as well as droughts in some regions. These impacts will be most devastating to the world’s already vulnerable people.
“The good news is that if we do act to cut emissions on the scale and at the speed needed, we can avert more extreme impacts. This is a matter of intergenerational justice.
“Poorer countries and people in the global south have high hopes that leaders will take the ambitious action needed. The COP26 summit needs to deliver real progress in pledges to cut emissions and provide financing to vulnerable nations which has been promised but not yet delivered. Rich nations must also act to provide finance to address the permanent losses and damages suffered by countries that did nothing to cause them. These catastrophic impacts will grow exponentially in the future unless we achieve net-zero. The package currently on the table is perilously inadequate."
Osborne Clarke’s environment and climate change lawyer Caroline Bush said:
"Following a summer of wildfires, floods and heat domes, it is no surprise that the IPCC report focuses on so-called tipping points which will act as a catalyst in the worsening climate crisis. Interestingly, the report focuses not just on cutting emissions of carbon dioxide, but also of methane, another potent greenhouse gas.
"With less than three months to go until COP26, the ever-increasing pressure from the scientific community and society generally simply cannot be ignored by world leaders. We need both global commitments and concerted actions, supported by incentives and regulation, to help drive this agenda.
"I have spoken to many clients who already have comprehensive carbon reduction plans, but there is no doubt that more can be done to up the ante. We need to get to a place, and quickly, where climate change considerations are built into every decision taken. Of course, it won't be easy, but every day that passes only makes it more difficult."
WWF Scotland’s head of policy Febrice Levique said:
“This is a stark assessment of the frightening future that awaits us if we fail to act on climate change. It’s clear that keeping global warming to 1.5°C is hugely challenging and can only be done if urgent action is taken globally to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect and restore nature.
“Scotland is not immune from the disastrous consequences of climate change. As predicted, we are already seeing wetter and warmer weather which could weaken our economy - jeopardising food production, as well as risking communities with flooding. With less than 100 days to go until world leaders arrive in Glasgow for the most important climate conference since the Paris Agreement in 2015, this is the moment the Scottish Government must demonstrate real global leadership, bringing forward more innovative policies to cut carbon and close the gap between its ambitions and its actions.”
The Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment’s former co-director Professor Joanna Haigh said:
“The UK has experienced severe flooding that has submerged roads and created havoc for hospital and transport systems, as well as unseasonable and sweltering high temperatures. It is in this context that the IPCC today publishes a report providing even greater evidence of the role of human-produced greenhouse gases in causing global heating – it is ‘unequivocal’.
“Governments must rapidly introduce policies and measures to reduce emissions by around 50% over the rest of this decade to avoid an ongoing breach of the 1.5°C target, which is still possible, but only just. Key to keeping 1.5C ‘alive’ will be a marked reduction in the release of highly potent methane emissions, which could rapidly slow temperature rise.”
University College London’s (UCL) professor of global change science Simon Lewis said:
“Cutting emissions to net-zero means keeping fossil fuels in the ground, ending deforestation and rapidly moving to using renewable energy to power the global economy. The new report significantly raises the pressure on world leaders to agree detailed and achievable plans to immediately cut emissions when they meet for the UN climate summit in Glasgow in November.”
Global Optimism’s founding partner and former UN climate secretary Christiana Figueres said:
"This report is yet another reminder that we need to accelerate global efforts to ditch fossil fuels and shift to a cleaner, greener growth model. We have a plan - it’s called the Paris Agreement. Everything we need to avoid the exponential impacts of climate change is doable. But it depends on solutions moving exponentially faster than impacts and getting on track to halving global emissions by 2030. COP26 will be the moment of truth.”
Chair of the Elders and former President of Ireland Mary Robinson said:
“The latest IPCC report identifies that the opportunity to limit global temperature rise to 1.5C is very slim, but still scientifically possible. The exigency of this situation must not lead us to despair, rather it should propel us into action.
“Leaders must show they understand the seriousness of the science and turn in stronger national commitments ahead of the COP26 climate talks this November. The big question leaders must reckon with in Glasgow is whether these plans add up to what is needed – and if not, how they will close the remaining gap.
“To those who seek to argue that it’s too hard, or too late, and so not worth trying - the report is a reminder that every fraction of a degree of warming really does matter. The level of climate ambition has never been greater than it is right now and there is still everything to fight for. Governments must do all they can to prevent the 1.5C window shutting.”
WWF’s chief advisor on climate change Dr Stephen Cornelius said:
“This is a stark assessment of the frightening future that awaits us if we fail to act. With the world on the brink of irreversible harm, every fraction of a degree of warming matters to limit the dangers of climate change. It is clear that keeping global warming to 1.5C is hugely challenging and can only be done if urgent action is taken globally to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect and restore nature.
“The UK Government, as host of the most important climate conference since the Paris Agreement in 2015, must step up efforts and show climate leadership. This must start at home, with a credible strategy to deliver the promised net-zero emissions and a fiscal test to ensure all government spending is compatible with climate targets. We won’t forget the promises that have been made, nor will future generations.”
The Energy and Climate Change Intelligence Unit’s (ECIU) senior associate Richard Black said:
“Coming less than three months before COP26, this report is a huge wake-up call to all governments showing that as things stand, they are not on track to keep climate change within manageable bounds.
“The window to delivering the Paris Agreement 1.5C limit without significant overshoot is closing fast – and missing that window will mean far greater expense in future on both unproven negative emission approaches and clearing up climate change impacts.
“COP26 presents a clear opportunity to implement credible policies in areas that will cut emissions quickly including ending coal use, restoring forests and cracking down on methane leaks – all of which also present economic opportunities.”
Green Alliance’s head of politics Chris Venables said:
“While this report should set off alarm bells around the world, the worry is that politicians will yet again hit the snooze button.
“Leadership starts at home. No more dither and delay. In the UK, we need the policy to match the ambition the Government has already shown.”
Oxfam GB’s chief executive Danny Sriskandarajah said:
“We are trailing dismally in this race against time - climate change is already turbo-charging extreme weather events and driving hunger, poverty and inequality all over the world. The evidence is unimpeachable – governments have to act now and drastically cut emissions further and faster.
“As host of COP26, the UK has to demonstrate global leadership. The Prime Minister should stop the proposed Cambo oil field and block the new Cumbria coal mine. He needs to urgently implement the policies needed to meet the UK’s bold climate change targets and rapidly decarbonise our economy. He also has to ensure that COP26 delivers a significant increase in financial support to the world’s poorest countries, to help them respond to escalating and deadly climate impacts.
“The richest 10% of people in the world are responsible for over half of global emissions compared to the poorest half that are responsible for just %. People with money and power will be able to buy some protection against the effects of global warming for longer than people without these resources - but not forever. No one is safe. This report is clear that we are at the stage now when collective action is fundamental to self-preservation”.
The Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership’s (CISL) director and chief executive Clare Shine said:
“The IPCC has delivered another wake-up call to the world, documenting in rigorous detail the scale and urgency of today’s climate-nature crisis.
“They highlight the message we see on every continent with ever more fires, floods, droughts and disasters – threats with huge human, economic and environmental cost, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable. This stark reminder comes at a time when the level of climate ambition globally has never been higher, but change is too slow and siloed. We can meet our responsibilities but not at this timid pace with current levels of inequity. We must push for bolder leadership and systems transformation for people, nature and climate and thus secure a legacy we can all be proud of.”
The Corporate Leaders Group’s director Eliot Whittington said:
“As the range and violence of extreme weather events from around the world reminds us, climate change is a critical and growing business risk, and the IPCC’s latest report gives the world the hard numbers showing the state and scale of that risk.
“Sensible and forward-looking businesses know they need to act now to change the way they do business and more and more governments are putting in place the plans and actions to deliver a resilient, net-zero economy. But the sad truth is that too much government commitment fails to live up to its rhetoric and, for every business committed to transformation, many more have yet to understand the significance of this challenge. We need to match our energy for climate action to the fierceness of our burning climate. Ambition needs to turn into action starting now.”
Power Shift Africa's director Mohamed Adow said:
"Those of us living in Africa have been aware of the urgency of the climate crisis for many years. Lives and livelihoods have been shattered by overwhelming heat, rising seas and extreme weather.
"It is vital that governments heed the warning of the IPCC's scientists and act with speed and boldness to make our world safer, cleaner and greener. This is not a simple question of success or failure, every fraction of a degree of heating is important, each decision, each coal plant closed or oil pipeline cancelled has a material impact on those of us living on the frontlines.
"This year at COP26, leaders have an opportunity to act on these scientific warnings. They have no excuse not to."
Energy Saving Trust's head of policy Stew Horne said:
"In the most significant intervention since the previous major report in 2013, the IPCC makes it clear that governments from around the world are not on track to meet the ambitions of the Paris Climate Agreement and that much more needs to be done.
“With the eyes of the world on the UK as we build up to COP26 in November, the UK government must now show real leadership by recommitting to delivering a greener recovery. The UK government has set some of the most ambitious climate pledges of any major economy in the world.
“The upcoming Heat and Buildings Strategy, Net Zero Strategy and Treasury Spending Review, will provide the practical steps to reduce carbon emissions and must ensure a fair and equitable transition to net zero. Greener ways of doing things that currently feel unobtainable or undesirable for many people must be made affordable and attractive.
“Recent analysis from the Climate Change Committee (CCC) shows that the changes we need to make in the UK remain achievable – and will also bring wide-ranging benefits. For example, the costs of upgrading existing housing stock, to improve insulation and provide low carbon heating, will be more than outweighed by the lower energy bills achieved.
“We all stand to benefit from a low-carbon future and must all play our part in achieving this goal. However, the Government has to lead the sustained change across society. It is crucial that the upcoming policy milestones set out the detail to drive behaviour change alongside business innovation and investment."
Regen's associate director and senior strategic advisor to the UK's COP26 Unit, Rachel Hayes, said:
"Globally we need rapid, far-reaching, and unprecedented changes to tackling climate change. This includes working together to rapidly scale up clean energy investment and accelerate the transition to zero-emission vehicles.
"It is vital that we see higher levels of ambition come forward, particularly from the G20, in these last few critical months before the UK convenes global leaders for COP26. Governments must accept that there are difficult decisions to make. The UK must show leadership with exemplar polices, backed by real action, to achieve net-zero and we must all take climate as seriously as we would any other crisis that threatens our livelihoods.”
Planet Mark founder and chief executive Steve Malkin said:
“The IPCC’s report is unequivocal; action must be taken now to avoid the worst impacts of global warming. Many companies have been measuring and reducing their carbon emissions for years, but today’s report highlights the fact that we need to ensure that every organisation in the UK and beyond follows suit. This is more than a merely a box-ticking exercise for companies - consistent year-on-year carbon reductions are achievable and create quantifiable business value, while also accelerating positive impacts on the climate crisis and society.”
PwC's global sustainability and climate change leader Emma Cox said:
“As the most advanced and authoritative analysis of the climate system to date, the report issues a stark warning that the impacts are stronger than previously predicted and are only likely to get worse with every fraction of a degree of warming.
“For companies with a global footprint, the report provides the most detailed analysis of where and how your operations, supply chains and markets are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Climate science should remain the hard basis for all decision-making and target setting. In parallel, it must be used to inform and instigate a strong policy response to close the remaining ambition gap to keep the Paris Agreement objectives alive.”
The Climate Coalition's interim director Ben Margolis said:
"From heatwave-induced wildfires to devastating floods, the extreme weather we’ve seen this year shows that the impacts of climate change are already here.
“Today, scientists are telling us that the window of opportunity to limit warming to 1.5C, and avoid even more severe impacts, is closing - but it’s not yet slammed shut. We already know what’s needed to secure a safer future: from saying no to polluting fossil fuels like the Cambo oil field, to restoring the natural world, protecting forests and meeting financial promises to support people on the frontline of the climate crisis. Now, it’s time to get on and do it.
“Boris Johnson has inherited the greatest responsibility of any Prime Minister in modern history: to lead the world to a historic climate deal that meets the public’s rising expectations for bold action. The question for Johnson is the kind of legacy he wants to leave. Does he want his premiership to be remembered as pioneering and bold - or left out of the history books because he was no match for the task at hand?”
CDP's global director of policy engagement and external affairs, Pietro Bertazzi, said:
“This latest report from the IPCC provides a stark warning that disastrous climate tipping points are nearing and that this is our final wake-up call. It is now evident that some climate change repercussions are already baked into the system and we must find a way of dealing with them. This is a ‘code red’ for humanity...urgent and system-wide action needs to happen now if we are to have any chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C and reversing what could be irreversible effects of climate change.
"As we approach the historic 26th COP meeting in November, it could not be more important that governments strengthen their Nationally Determined Contributions and put in place roadmaps and policies to get there.
"Businesses too must act faster. Whilst we are seeing huge momentum in net-zero pledges from corporates globally, it is vital that companies have interim science-based targets in line with 1.5°C, that these are backed up by robust and credible transition plans, and that they can be held to account. Now is not the time for words, it is the time for action.
"We’d also urge all governments, investors and businesses to ensure that climate change isn’t approached in isolation. Environmental issues are inter-connected, and, as a result, the IPCC report confirms there is absolutely no way of managing global warming without tackling biodiversity, forests and oceans - if we don’t tackle nature and climate together, we solve neither."
The Aldersgate Group’s executive director Nick Molho said:
“Today’s report has huge implications for policymakers in terms of tackling greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the levels of climate change the world is already locked into. To keep the 1.5C target alive and adapt to a changing climate, governments around the world must provide unequivocally clear policy signals to significantly accelerate the investment that is urgently needed in ultra-low carbon infrastructure and nature-based solutions. The business and finance communities have a clear role to play too by taking on credible net-zero emissions and biodiversity restoration targets and delivery plans.
“The UK Government has a critical role to play in the coming months. On the global stage, it needs to gather maximum momentum to bring emission reduction pledges from all key emitting nations in line with the 1.5C target and look to underpin this with tangible global collaboration and initiatives in areas where cutting emissions is particularly complex. Domestically, the expected publication of the Net-Zero Strategy and the finalisation of the Environment Bill provide the Government with a unique opportunity to set out the detailed and comprehensive policy framework to unleash the low-carbon investment that is needed across the UK’s homes, industry, energy, transport and land management sectors and maximise the job creation opportunities that will come with this.”
The Wildlife Trusts' interim director of climate action Kathryn Brown said:
“Climate change is already affecting people, places and nature in every region of the world, and is having profound effects on wildlife in the UK – yet nature, when it’s restored, will contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving resilience to inevitable change.
“This is hugely urgent – we need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels, and restore nature at scale as fast as possible. The Wildlife Trusts are repairing habitats and creating new ones across the UK – nature-based solutions can help tackle the climate crisis and increase our ability to adapt to it. But nature needs time to store carbon on the vast scale that’s needed which is why we need to restore 30% of our land for nature by 2030.
“Organisations that are putting nature into recovery need support to do this work – and a new designation known as Wildbelt is vital to protect land where nature is being repaired. All government departments must agree that we are fighting both a climate and nature crisis. Currently, we risk being undermined by destructive infrastructure projects such as HS2 and the £27 billion being spent on road-building – as well as plans for new coal mines and further oil and gas in the North Sea. The Government cuts to foreign aid have had a negative impact too, by undermining our diplomatic negotiating power ahead of COP26."
The Energy Networks Association's chief executive David Smith said:
“The UK’s energy networks are some of the greenest and smartest in the world, but we need monumental action and collaboration across all industries to deliver net-zero. Today's warning is stark. Action must be taken now to address the climate emergency. We urge the government to push forward in publishing the long-awaited Net-Zero, Hydrogen, and Heat and Buildings Strategies.”
Environmental Audit Committee chairman Philip Dunne MP said:
“This assessment of the physical science behind climate change demands urgent attention from key policymakers.
“Internationally, this report strengthens COP President Alok Sharma’s hand in pressing for updated pledges for reduced Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) from the states party to the Paris Agreement who have not yet revised their NDCs. It indicates the need to reach an ambitious agreement at COP26 in Glasgow in November which will genuinely set us on the path to net-zero by 2050.
“Domestically, the report shows the likely regional effects of continued warming at the current rate and demonstrates the challenges of adaptation we are likely to face in the coming decade. The Prime Minister has inherited a favourable leadership position following years of successful decarbonisation by successive administrations. Before COP26 leaders convene in Glasgow, he must show them he has the necessary political courage, by driving the Government to adopt the strategies necessary to make his high-level climate promises a reality.”
Business Fights Poverty’s co-founder Zahid Torres-Rahman said:
“No country is safe from weather extremes, but poorer communities will be particularly impacted by runaway global warming. That's those already lacking ready access to food, water and shelter, or those living below the poverty line.
“It may still be possible to avert a climate catastrophe but we must halve global emissions by 2030 and reach net zero by the middle of the century. Businesses and governments must work together to this end. Governments, by meeting greenhouse gas reduction targets, and business by safeguarding the environment and by driving innovation, from cleantech to carbon capture. By working together we can protect the most vulnerable from climate change and create a sustainable future for us all.”