#24 The IPCC Big Edit: finance, net zero, and the human factor
This is a special edition of the podcast, the Big IPCC edit.
IPCC reports are notoriously hard to read - they are long and very technical. This means that few people actually read them.
But they matter to all of us - the insights from these reports affect the way we vote, invest, consume and just generally how we live our lives.
To make this bumper episode, I talked to three different authors from three chapters in the latest Working Group 3 report on mitigation solutions.
Demand-side solutions, a fast growing area of knowledge, the new, good news chapter of the entire report
Investment and finance - volume of literature on this tripled between previous 2014 assessment and this one
Long-term emissions pathways - the heart of net zero
In the second segment, I talk to Joyashree Roy, Coordinating Lead Author for the new chapter on demand, services and social aspects of mitigation. This is a big deal, as previous reports focused mostly on supply-side solutions like renewable energies. But this report shows with high confidence that demand-side strategies can reduce 40-70% of emissions across all sectors.
But first, I talk to Christa Clapp and Glen Peters from the CICERO Centre for International Climate Research in Norway.
Our conversation is an important primer for anyone who wants to get their head around net zero.
Among the highlights: why the “three more years to reduce emissions” thing is wrong. Why peak emissions are an important signal for the oil and gas sector, and why does the report have an entire chapter on finance and investment, yet the IPCC doesn’t target financial decision makers with its report?
We also talk about #climatetwitter - how is it changing and what does that mean for the IPCC and its reports?
What we talked about:
Part One: Christa Clapp and Glen Peters
2.35 The finance chapter is 3 times bigger than in the previous assessment. A lot is happening, but we still don’t know the impact of that activity
6.31 Why “three more years to reduce the emissions curve” is an error, one that sends the wrong signal about having more time
10.02 What is “peak emissions” and why does it matter? In fact, what matters most is the reduction after the peak. (Glen)
11:59 The language around peak emissions matters to the oil and gas sector because it affects decisions around when to reduce production. Most oil and gas majors in their scenarios have emissions peaking between 2030 and 2040.
15.44 Emissions were back at 2019 levels in 2021. So we’re essentially at a new peak emisssions.
18.20 War in Ukraine is driving new interest in nuclear, and we’re starting to see nuclear energy deals being labelled as green.
22.08 Everyone agrees climate specialists from different areas such as finance and carbon cycle specialists should communicate and collaborate more, but there are many barriers.
27.08 Glen says that an Integrated Assessment Model is like a jack of all trades but a master of none.
28.22 The finance sector is a whole new consumer group for climate scenarios, and sometimes this means they use the scenarios in a way they weren’t intended. We should be clearer about what the models are doing and not doing, and provide extra information.
29.21 The IPCC doesn’t target financial decision makers as an audience with their reports.
30.18 One thing the scientific literature shows is that all the activity in the finance sector is focused on financial regulation around climate risk transparency, which builds capacity within institutions but does not, for the moment, drive emissions reductions.
34.33. Glen talks about climate twitter and how it’s changed in recent years.
Part Two: Joyashree Roy
42:02 Literature on demand solutions has proliferated since the Fifth Assessment, especially from the social
44.38 Lifestyle and behaviour changes can reduce energy demand and our carbon footprint without reducing our wellbeing
49:07 Demand-side strategies can reduce 40-70% of emissions across all sectors.
53:53 A big focus of the literature is human desire for health and wellbeing over accumulation of material goods. In order to drive more sustainable consumption patterns, we need social movements, role models to support social acceptability of these new patterns of consumption.
57:06 Policies can change behaviour, for example putting a tax on status consumption items.
1:05 We need to set wellbeing as our goal and not income and material accumulation.
Thanks for listening!
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