“The IPCC does not make policy recommendations – that is the job of governments,” said Dr. Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC.

The commitments made for Paris are not enough to create climate stability IPCC
news Interview Wednesday, November 25, 2015 - 16:27

Knowledge that ignores science will ultimately perish. It is science, which is bringing leaders from over 190 countries to Paris next week to decide on concrete action to prevent global warming. When policy makers and politicians sit around the table at the Conference of Parties (COP 21), they will be faced with a moot political question. Who pays what and why? The jury on scientific data is in, thanks to the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Geneva-based agency’s remit is to provide governments with a comprehensive assessment of climate change science, the risks of inaction and action and suggest a range of solutions. “The IPCC does not make policy recommendations – that is the job of governments,” Dr. Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC told The News Minute. Excerpts

COP 21 meets in less than a week. What, in your view, are the major obstacles?

With the world’s largest emitters having submitted plans to reduce their emissions, much of the work has already been done.  The findings of the IPCC clearly demonstrate the need for prompt and meaningful reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.  Now it is up to policymakers to implement the actions that are most effective for their countries in order to meet their commitments.

The commitments made so far are not enough to create climate stability and cap the average global temperature increase at 2° Celsius, but they are a big improvement over what we had, and I am optimistic that they will become more ambitious.  I am also encouraged by the momentum leading into Paris, with the world’s two largest emitters, the U.S. and China, committing to reduce emissions and with a growing number of businesses, including those from the energy sector, calling for action.

Developing countries say they have done more than their fair share of adjusting and accommodating and accuse the developed world of hypocrisy. Who is right and who is wrong?

As the IPCC pointed out in AR5 climate change is a global problem that requires a global response.  We must limit the effects of climate change if we are going to have sustainable development and equity, including poverty eradication.  We also recognize that the costs associated with mitigation and adaptation raise issues of equity, justice and fairness, especially when you consider that many of those most vulnerable to climate change contribute little to the world’s overall emissions.  While it is the IPCC’s role to point out these issues, it is not our role to decide issues of fairness or who is right or wrong.

What is the status of the new OECD numbers? The G-77 says they were not consulted on this.

 I think this question is better directed at the OECD.

Where will funding for mitigation and adaptation come from?

I am hopeful that the Green Climate Fund will reach its intended goal of raising $100 billion in new resources per year by 2020 to assist developing countries with mitigation and adaptation. I think an increasing amount will also come from the private sector given the tremendous economic opportunities that are emerging to develop and implement new mitigation technologies and adaptation measures.  This is a fundamental point worth emphasizing:  Climate change is a growing threat, to be sure, but it is also an opportunity to build a new kind of economy that would create new jobs, improve health, protect our environment and reduce poverty.

Some countries are asking that development assistance be decoupled from climate financing. What is your view on this?

This is a political question that I am not in a position to answer.

Energy companies have pledged to support the 2 degree Celsius goal. Polluter pays or buying good conscience?

I am gratified by the energy sector’s growing commitment to action about climate change, but I am not in a position to speculate about motives.

For now, countries like India cannot move away from coal. Has this message been heard?

I assume that people who are following global events related to climate change have heard this message.

 

Read our earlier posts on COP21

(The interview was conducted over email)

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