on 13th March 2018

47th Session of the IPCC

From 13 to 16 March, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an international body for assessing the science related to climate change, meets in Paris for its 47th session. On this occasion, the IPCC also celebrates its thirtieth anniversary and opens an intense sequence of diplomatic exchanges on climate that will continue until the end of the year.

The goal is clear: states must scale up ambition and accelerate climate action.

A key task for IPCC experts this year is the publication in October of a special report on the impacts of a 1.5°C warming on the planet and its inhabitants. Commissioned by UNFCCC parties at COP21 in Paris in 2015, this report is being written and reviewed by hundreds of contributors, from both scientific and governmental arenas, as well as civil society.

1.5°C or 2°C warming: What is the difference?

At COP21, the international community pledged to contain global warming below 2°C and, if possible, 1.5°C. Driven by a coalition of states particularly vulnerable to climate change, the demand to not exceed 1.5°C is literally a matter of survival for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Recently, Carbon Brief estimates show that a half-degree Celsius difference can significantly increase impacts on agricultural production, drinking water availability and rising sea levels. For example, wheat harvests would drop 9% in a 1.5°C scenario versus a 16% drop in a 2°C scenario. Drinking water resources would be reduced by 17% in a 2°C world, almost twice (-9%) as much as 1.5°C of global warming.

# StepUp2018: Move up a gear!

While 2015, 2016 and 2017 were the warmest years ever recorded, the temperature of the planet has increased by more than 1°C since the industrial era. If we maintain our current rate of greenhouse gas emissions, the carbon budget to stay below 1.5°C will be exhausted within 4 years: We do not have time to delay action. We must urgently reduce greenhouse gas emissions, invest heavily in renewable energies, and strengthen the adaptive capacities of the most vulnerable populations. 2018 is an opportunity not to be missed to scale up ambition in these different areas.

Throughout the year, the Talanoa Dialogue process, led by the Fijian COP23 presidency, will have the ultimate goal of encouraging states to review their COP21 commitments, which currently place the planet on a trajectory of 3°C by the end of the century. Through the creation of an open discussion forum between governments, NGOs, companies and research institutes, and several key events that will address climate (G7 in Canada on the 8th and 9th of June, European Council on the 28th and 29th of June, Summit of Action in California at the initiative of its governor from 12 to 14 September, G20 in Argentina on 30 November and 1 December), the Fijian Presidency hopes to create a ripple effect towards more ambition and action. This process culminates at COP24 in Katowice, Poland from December 3rd to 14th.

The findings from the IPCC special report on a world at 1.5°C will play a central role. While renewable energy costs are on a downward slope, those of inaction have never been higher. Setting the course for more ambitious climate action that is respectful of human rights must become a priority for governments, cities, regions, companies, and NGOs to ensure that sustainable development benefits the greatest number. The next round of negotiations, which will take place in Bonn from 30 April to 11 May, will be a good opportunity to see if Governments are serious about accelerating their efforts to tackle climate change.

Fanny Petitbon

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