UN climate draft report leaked ahead of intense climate week

Governments can still meet the emission reduction target as set under the Paris Agreement but only with “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in the world economy, the leaked IPCC says.

If emissions continue at their present rate, human-induced warming will exceed 1.5°C by around 2040, according to a draft UN report leaked ahead of an intense climate-focused political week.

Governments can still meet the emission reduction target as framed under the Paris Agreement but only with “rapid and far-reaching” transitions in the world economy, the report says.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is due to publish its final report in October in South Korea after revisions and approval by governments.

It made an official statement following the leak.

“Draft reports are provided to governments and reviewers as confidential working documents and must not be publicly distributed, quoted or cited. This is out of respect for the authors and to give them the time and space to finish writing before making the work public. For these reasons, the IPCC does not comment on the contents of draft reports while work is still ongoing,” the statement reads.

The IPCC is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to provide a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts.

They are of crucial relevance in international climate negotiations, where diplomats have to juggle extremely diverse topics, exponential and sparse scientific knowledge, and diplomatic struggles that are sometimes based more on positions of principle and ideas.

At the local level as well, the credibility of the IPCC’s conclusions plays a role in the implementation of climate-compatible public policies and climate projects, which often still conflict with other perspectives, such as industrial development.

This is why Bert Metz, Fellow at the European Climate Foundation and former Co-chair of the IPCC Working Group III on mitigation on climate change, emphasises the importance of urgently limiting temperature increase to 1.5C in order to reduce climate risks.

“As was clear from a number of scientific studies that were published recently, there is now a lot of evidence that the risks of climate change are significantly lower when temperature increase is limited to 1.5°C, compared to an increase of 2°C. This holds for the overall economic damage, loss of biodiversity, health impacts of fossil fuel associated air pollution, sea level rise- particularly over the next hundreds of years – and many other aspects of society and nature,” he said.

He also highlighted what he sees as the current inadequacy of governments’ national contribution to reducing greenhouse gases emission.

“As already was clearly shown in last year’s Emissions Gap Report from UN Environment, the current pledges made by countries in Paris- the so called NDCs- are totally insufficient to help meet the Paris goals of limiting temperature increase to well below 2°C, let alone 1.5°C. They would likely lead to an increase of more than 3°C. And worse, the policies currently implemented are not even meeting those pledges.”

Tight political schedule  

The leak was published ahead of two ministerial-level events on climate change next week, designed to prepare the ground for a successful COP24 outcome which will take place in December in Katowice under Poland’s Presidency.

On 18 and 19 June, Germany’s Federal Environment Ministry and the Government of Poland are hosting the 9th Petersberg Climate Dialogue in Berlin. This informal meeting of ministers and representatives from 35 countries focusses on the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement and preparation for the COP24, and will be chaired by Federal Environment Minister Svenja Schulze and the President-designate of COP 24 Michał Kurtyka, State Secretary at the Polish Energy Ministry. On Tuesday (19 June), Chancellor Angela Merkel will give a speech on climate policy.

On 20 and 21 June, the Ministerial on Climate Action (MoCA), co-convened by the EU, China and Canada will take place in Brussels.

Between these two meetings, climate is also expected to be on the agenda at the bilateral summit of Chancellor Merkel and French president Emmanuel Macron on 19 June., a meeting which Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is also expected to attend.

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