Only a very small window remains to limit global average temperate rise to 1.5ºC – the target set in the Paris climate agreement – and this requires an end to new fossil fuel infrastructure and the urgent decommissioning of existing fossil fuel facilities, the latest climate science shows.
The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN’s officially-appointed body of scientists from around the globe, today released its latest assessment which offers pathways out of the hole humanity is in.
It shows that the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure, and even the continued use of existing fossil fuel infrastructure, will make the 1.5ºC target impossible to reach. Governments must begin the rapid phase-out of fossil fuels to stand a chance of limiting warming to 1.5ºC. Overshooting would have devastating impacts, most profoundly on developing countries least responsible and least able to cope.
European governments are not phasing out fossil fuels anywhere near fast enough. Friends of the Earth Europe has criticised the recent backing given to 30 fossil gas mega-projects worth €13 billion. The group calls for Europe’s energy system to be fossil fuel-free by 2030.
Colin Roche, climate justice and energy coordinator for Friends of the Earth Europe, commented:
“This report makes clear just how close we are to breaching the Paris Agreement’s 1.5 degree limit and just how urgent it is to make a clean break from fossil fuels. There can be no justification for prolonging support and subsidies for fossil fuels that put the planet on a pathway to more than 1.5ºC of warming – which is already a devastating compromise for vulnerable parts of the world.
“Putin’s horrific fossil fuel funded invasion of Ukraine has rocked Europe and must be the final wake-up call that breaks the stranglehold of fossil fuels on our energy system. Clean, safe energy solutions exist and the IPCC shows they are getting cheaper. Europe must finally put people and our planet before industry profits, start decommissioning fossil fuels and go all-out for renewables, insulation and energy saving.”
Once again, the IPCC’s findings have become a political battleground. Climate justice campaigners fear that the need for an urgent transition away from fossil fuels to prevent catastrophic levels of warming is being undermined by the legitimisation of ‘overshoot’ scenarios of more than 1.5 degrees, and the prospect of introducing unproven and speculative technologies to cool the planet at a later date.
Activists and experts from Friends of the Earth International, the world’s largest grassroots environmental federation, gave their responses.
Hemantha Withanage, Chair of Friends of the Earth International, based in Sri Lanka, said:
“We cannot betray the promise of a 1.5 degree warming threshold. If the IPCC’s WG3 report does not contain any mitigation pathways that keep us from breaching 1.5 degrees within the constraints of the current economic paradigm, that is only proof that this economic system is incompatible with life on Earth. The priority for our communities, movements, and decision-makers must now be to end the era of fossil fuels and transform our societies and economies towards sustainable systems designed to address peoples’ needs, safety and wellbeing, not profit and greed.”
Meena Raman, Sahabat Alam Malaysia / Friends of the Earth Malaysia, commented:
“The notion that we will be able to overshoot 1.5 degrees and then reverse warming later on through carbon removal and geoengineering technologies – that are wholly speculative and unproven at scale – is anti-science and anti-human. It betrays the cowardice and recklessness of the same actors who have failed, time and again, to take action when it was needed. We have everything we need to solve this problem right now, we lack only the courage of so-called global leaders, especially from the global North who are trying to hide their historical responsibility for creating the crisis.”