IPCC climate change report presented in the European Parliament

Dr Rajendra Pachauri, IPCC Chair, keynote speaker at STOA Panel's workshop on the climate change challenge.

By Dods EU monitoring

06 Nov 2014

Please note that this does not constitute a formal record of the proceedings of the meeting. It is dependent on interpretation and acts as an unofficial summary of the debate.

Documents: IPCC Climate Change 2014 - Synthesis Report / Dr Pachauri's presentation

On November 4, European Parliament's STOA Panel hosted a workshop on the climate change challenge during which Dr Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), presented the key findings of IPCC's 5th Assessment Report (AR5). The AR5 was released in four parts between September 2013 and November 2014, while its Synthesis Report was released on November 2 2014 and is considered as the latest scientific assessment on climate change adaptation and mitigation risks, costs and options. New Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation Carlos Moedas, MEPs, stakeholders from the public and private sector and civil society representatives took part in the discussion which followed Dr Pachauri's presentation. During the event, there was a general feeling of acknowledgement of IPCC's significant scientific contribution to the fight against climate change. Please find details below.

Mairead Mc Guinness (EPP, IE), EP Vice-President responsible for STOA, welcomed the participants and noted that this was the first engagement of Commissioner Moedas in the Parliament. She characterised the debate as a crucial one taking place just a few days after the launch of IPCC synthesis report, the European Council's decision and midst the global focus given to climate. If we tackle the climate challenges today, it will be also easier to tackle the rest of major challenges of our society, she commented.

Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, believed that the event reveals the Parliament’s support to climate change initiatives. Then, he praised the work of IPCC. It is no surprise that the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to the Panel in 2007, he added. Mr Moedas was also proud of European Union’s contribution to this end. Over 1000 publications on climate change are linked to EU funded projects, he informed.

Mr Moedas found the presence of Dr Pachauri to be a great privilege and believed that it would provide great deal to reflect in view of Lima and Paris meetings. Then, he explained that it is not only scientists and policy makers who have responsibility but also the corporate sector.

Mr Moedas put special emphasis on the fact that human influence on the climate is indisputable. The choice to take action in order to limit the damage belongs to us and AR5 includes various options for that, he elaborated. In this sense, he mentioned President Juncker’s commitment for a resilient Energy Union with a forward-looking climate change policy and quoted his statement that “the European Union should lead the fight against global warming ahead of the United Nations Paris meeting in 2015 and beyond”. Then, he referred to Union's commitment to more climate-friendly and less energy consuming society by endorsing 40% greenhouse gases (GHG) emission reduction and at least 27% share of renewables by 2030. Climate change is a cornerstone, he continued, of Horizon 2020, 35% of which is attributed to climate-related objectives. Furthermore, Mr Moedas mentioned the currently developing agenda which aims at highly innovative, cost-effective technological and non-technological solutions in order to enable public bodies and economic players to contribute to the objectives.

Europe cannot be alone, he continued; and welcomed the broad participation of scientists from all over the world who had joined IPCC's efforts. He believed that there was still time for joint action with conviction which is necessary because “we cannot afford not to act”.

Mairead Mc Guinness (EPP, IE) acknowledged the presence of Indian Ambassador Manjeev Singh Puri and of IPCC Vice-Chair Jean-Pascal van Ypersele.

Paul Rübig (EPP, AT), Chair of STOA Panel, also welcomed the participants and listed some biography information of keynote speaker Dr Rajendra Pachauri. He also thanked everyone for contributing to the Parliament's efforts towards a 2050 agenda for sustainable mobility and resource efficiency, while also explaining STOA's impact to this end.

Rajendra Pachauri, IPCC Chair, praised the EP for its significant role and expressed personal belief that the general construction of the European Union is a remarkable model for the rest of the world to imitate. Then, he referred to IPCC Synthesis Report and explained that it is the result of several years of effort with the contribution of 800 authors and 51 members of the core writing team.

Then, he referred to the key message of the report which is the clear human influence on the climate system. Humans are the dominant cause of warming as proved by a combined increasing route of GHG emissions and global warming since the mid-20th century, he elaborated. The more disruption made the more we risk irreversible impacts, he added. Nevertheless, he found good news that the means to limit climate change are available.

Dr Pachauri continued his presentation by stating another important finding:  each of the past 3 decades has been successively warmer than the preceding decades. The warming of the planet is taking place faster than ever, while GHG emissions growth is the largest during the last decade, he added. This should be taken into account when considering policies, he elaborated. Then, he referred to the significant implications to marine systems given that oceans absorb more than 90% of the energy accumulation in the climate.

Dr Pachauri continued by presenting the main sources of emissions and noted that energy and agriculture sectors are on top and should be tackled in priority. There have been effective steps keeping forestry and other land use sector under control but there is still work to be done. On the other, the emissions of fossil fuels, cement and flaring keep increasing, a fact that calls for urgent action, he added.

When it comes to the impacts of climate change in the world, he explained that all sectors and ecosystems are affected, while no part of the world will remain untouched. Some examples of this impact are the continuous warming of oceans, sea level rising, global glacier level shrinking, decrease of food and water supplies, increase of people displacement, increase of poverty and flooding of coasts, he added.

Then, Dr Pachauri explained that there was limited time for a major shift given that 65% of carbon budget has already been used. He then emphasised the risks in food security given the consequent decrease of agriculture yields because of climate change. Speaking for the growth of emissions, he explained that the IPCC report projects 4 scenarios based on the different options of mitigation efforts. The scenario that will help to stabilise global warming to less than 2o Celsius requires emissions to go to zero or negative levels by the end of the century, he elaborated. There is a substantial amount of policy measures and institutional changes needed for this stabilisation but it is still feasible, he added.

Then, Dr Pachauri explained how the report provides an integrated view of the kinds of concerns that need to be taken into account while deciding policy options.

When it comes to the cost of mitigation objectives, he narrated that the assumption is 1.6-3% growth delay by 2030 without counting though the benefits of climate stabilisation. Yet, the cost of the previously mentioned impacts will be much bigger than this delay, he explained.

Lastly, Dr Pachauri presented the different results in temperature increase of the different choices we make: the substantial mitigation choice can stabilise the increase to 2oC, on the other hand the option of non-additional measures will cause a 10oC increase in some parts of the world by the end of the century. The mitigation choices could be: high levels of energy efficiency, greater use of renewables, nuclear, bioenergy, carbon capture and storage, as well as complete elimination of deforestation, he added. Some of them are immediately available, while further technological development will provide more opportunities, he concluded.

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