The House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee report on the Working Group 1 contribution to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report, which is published today, has found the IPCC process to be robust. The committee launched an inquiry into the IPCC WG1 report in October 2013, following criticism by some commentators of the IPCC review process and its conclusions.
The Grantham Institute submitted written evidence to the committee (you can read our evidence here) and our Chair Professor Sir Brian Hoskins was called before the committee to give oral evidence.
The committee found that “the IPCC has responded extremely well to constructive criticism in the last few years and has tightened its review processes to make its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) the most exhaustive and heavily scrutinised Assessment Report to-date.
Following on from Simon Buckle’s post this morning another piece of good news on emissions reductions, the UK government has announced that they will not amend the fourth carbon budget, after reviewing their commitments in light of progress within the EU.
Therefore the carbon budget for 2023-27 remains at 1,950 MtCO2e, keeping the UK on track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 by 80% relative to 1990 levels.
This decision is in line with advice from the Committee on Climate Change given in December 2013, that there was no basis to change the fourth carbon budget.
You can read more about the review in our background note on the fourth carbon budget.
By Dr Simon Buckle, Grantham Institute
There was some good news last week from the annual Petersberg Climate Dialogues held on 14-15 July in Berlin. The Petersberg meetings were instituted after the perceived failure of the Copenhagen summit in 2009 in order to support the UNFCCC talks. They are co-chaired by Germany and the country hosting the next Conference of the Parties meeting, in this case Peru.
Chancellor Merkel took the opportunity in her address to signal renewed ambition for climate action, perhaps disappointing some of those who had been hoping (or even working) for a reversal of Germany’s commitment to decarbonisation.
By Dr Simon Buckle, Grantham Institute
I spent a few days at the recent Bonn climate change conference (4-15 June) during the High Level Ministerial events on 5-6 June. Not that these were the most interesting things happening there. Unsurprisingly, by and large, Ministers did not stray from well rehearsed positions, reflecting the continued skirmishing over the interpretation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) term “common but differentiated responsibilities” in a world that is radically different from the one in which the Convention was conceived.
More interesting were the briefing session on the UN Secretary General’s forthcoming climate summit in New York on 23 September and a series of special events where negotiators got the chance to hear from and question IPCC authors about the implications of the IPCC AR5 reports for the UN negotiations and the review underway of the long-term target (2°C or 1.5°C?),
By Gabriele Messori, Stockholm University (former Imperial PhD student)
The United Nations’ climate negotiations usually gain the press spotlight once a year, when the big Conference of the Parties (COP) meeting takes place. The most recent COP, which took place in Warsaw last November, was discussed on this blog here. However, the efforts to design a global climate treaty under the umbrella of the United Nations are ongoing, and additional negotiations take place throughout the year. These are particularly important in preparing the ground for the COPs, and provide the occasion to iron out the contrasts which might hamper later work.
By Dr Flora MacTavish and Dr Simon Buckle
In the press coverage of the recent floods, there has been a lot of discussion about whether the authorities could have been better prepared or responded more effectively. The National Farmers Union has called for the reintroduction of river dredging, although experts argue that dredging may be limited in its effectiveness. Local authorities have been criticised by experts for distributing sand bags rather than encouraging the use of more effective alternatives such as wooden or metal boards.
These are essentially tactical issues, however. It is the government and local authorities that have the vital strategic responsibility for fully embedding weather and climate risks into decisions on the level and focus of investment into flood defences and planning regulations about what can be built and where.
By Dr Simon Buckle
I just wanted to highlight the great event we held last week with Judy Curry at Georgia Tech on how we can use climate science to help us make better decisions – in business, government, health and development. Do have a look at the presentations from the really diverse group we managed to assemble in Atlanta, from international organisations, business, development agencies, NGOs and research.
A few points strike me as worth (re)emphasising:
- Climate models are extremely valuable tools for assessing climate change over the rest of this century, but even the most advanced climate models are not yet able to provide detailed information with sufficient confidence on the variability and change of regional climate in the next few decades.
By Gabriele Messori, Research postgraduate in the Department of Physics
The 19th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) took place last month in Warsaw, Poland. These conferences are at the core of the international negotiations on climate change, and set the scene for future climate policies around the world. By most accounts, the Warsaw meeting had mixed results – it marked progress in some areas and stagnation in others. One of the most contentious negotiation streams, and one where some measure of progress was made, was loss and damage.
The current approach to climate change is based on two pillars: mitigation and adaptation.
By Neil Hirst
On Wednesday six major developing nations plus Russia agreed to pursue closer cooperation, or “Association” with the International Energy Agency. The announcement is superficially modest, but it’s of major strategic importance. It’s the first crack in the “Berlin wall” that has separated energy policy making in the rich OECD countries from that in the developing world. The announcement itself concentrates on making energy markets more efficient but “energy technologies, energy efficiency, and renewable energy” are also on the agenda. These are early days, and there is long way to go to make this initiative effective. But this statement of intention, at Ministerial level, is a new and crucial step.
By Dr Simon Buckle
Two years to go and counting down. That’s the real significance of COP19, the Warsaw Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which runs from 11-22 November. A new universal climate agreement effective from 2020 is what is at stake, and Warsaw is a step on the path.
The COP21 meeting in Paris at the end of 2015 will hopefully be the successful culmination of many years’ of hard work by the UNFCCC Secretariat, government climate negotiators and many, many others. It’s time for governments to act on the words they agreed in the IPCC Summary for Policy Makers launched on 27 September – namely that substantial and sustained reductions in emissions are required to limit climate risks.