Europe 1 with AFP 14:39 pm, March 20, 2023

Global warming caused by human activity will reach 1.5 ° C compared to the pre-industrial era from the years 2030-2035, warn Monday the experts of the IPCC in their new synthesis report, sum of the last nine years of research representing the most up-to-date scientific consensus on climate.

The synthesis of nine years of IPCC work on climate sounds Monday like a stark reminder of the need for humanity to finally act radically during this crucial decade to ensure "a livable future". This synthesis, which follows that of 2014 and will have no equivalent in the current decade, is "a survival guide for humanity", stressed the Secretary General of the UN, António Guterres.

"What is lacking at the moment is a strong political will"

"This report is a message of hope," Hoesung Lee, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told AFP. "We have the know-how, the technology, the tools, the financial resources and everything we need to overcome the climate problems we have identified" but "what is missing at the moment is a strong political will to solve them once and for all," said the Korean economist.

This scientific consensus of the IPCC will be the factual basis for the intense political and economic negotiations of the coming years. Starting with the UN climate summit in December in Dubai, COP28, where an initial assessment of each country's efforts under the Paris Agreement will be unveiled and where the future of fossil fuels will be fiercely negotiated.

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During the long IPCC discussion sessions in Switzerland over the weekend, Saudi Arabia's negotiators fought to dilute phrases about the central role of fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal). The place given in the 36-page "summary for decision-makers" to the legitimacy of CO2 capture technologies, bears their mark, according to some observers, who see in it potential "permits to burn".

Warming will reach 1.5°C by 2030-2035

Global warming will reach 1.5 ° C compared to the pre-industrial era from the years 2030-2035, warns the IPCC, while the temperature has already risen by nearly 1.2 ° C on average. This projection holds true in almost all scenarios of humanity's near-term greenhouse gas emissions, given their accumulation over the past century and a half.

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The CO2 emissions that would emanate from existing fossil infrastructures, if they are not equipped with means of capture, would be enough on their own to tip the world towards 1.5°C. But "deep, rapid and sustained reductions in emissions ... would lead to a visible slowdown in global warming in about two decades," the group of scientists wrote for the UN.

"This synthesis report highlights the urgency of taking more ambitious action and shows that, if we act now, we can still ensure a livable future for all," said IPCC Chairman Hoesung Lee.

Impacts more severe than previously estimated

"For any level of future warming, many climate-associated risks are higher than estimated" in the previous synthesis report in 2014, the scientists write. They are based on the recent increase in extreme weather events such as heat waves, and new scientific knowledge, for example on corals.

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"Due to the inevitable rise in sea levels, risks to coastal ecosystems, people and infrastructure will continue to increase beyond 2100," they said. The issue of "loss and damage" caused by global warming and already suffered by some countries, especially the poorest, will be one of the topics of discussion at COP28.

"Climate justice is crucial because those who have contributed the least to climate change are disproportionately affected," said Aditi Mukherji, one of the review's authors.

"Today's hot years among the coolest in a generation"

"The hottest years we have experienced so far will be among the coolest in a generation," said Friederike Otto, co-author of the synthesis, who represents this reality by a graph colored more or less dark red. "Some things are easier to get governments to accept when it's in infographics" rather than explicitly in the text, she said.

The last eight years have already been the warmest on record globally. In the future, they will therefore be among the coolest of the century, regardless of greenhouse gas emission levels. This highlights the need to combine climate change adaptation and emission reduction efforts so as not to exacerbate it further.

It costs less to invest than to suffer

"The economic and social benefits of limiting global warming to 2°C exceed the cost of the measures to be put in place," the experts said. But any further procrastination would elevate the march, notes the IPCC, as the world is already benefiting from rapid advances in renewable energy. "From 2010 to 2019, costs decreased sustainably for solar energy (85%), wind (55%) and lithium batteries (85%)," recalls the summary.

In addition to the effect on the climate, accelerated and sustained efforts "would bring many co-benefits, especially for air quality and health," write the scientists, who do not hide the price to pay: "in the short term, the actions involve high initial investments and potentially radical changes".