This report is an account of my personal experience of the European Launch of the IPCC Special Report on 1.5° C global warming conference in London on Monday 15 October. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report brings together the scientific evidence for the consequences of the 1.5° C aspirational target agreed at the 2016 Paris climate summit, as compared to the previous 2° C target. The report also identifies different routes to limiting temperature rise to 1.5° C. By comparison, the world is currently on track for over 3° C warming by the end of the century.
The conclusions in the IPCC 1.5° C report are based on 6,000 peer reviewed scientific papers and the work of thousands of expert and government reviewers. The conference consisted senior IPCC officials, scientists and politicians, including the Claire Perry, the UK ‘Climate Minister’ speaking about their perspectives on the report and the process by which it was produced and agreed by Governments in Korea in October 2018. In the afternoon there were workshops on the social science of public engagement with climate change which is now an explicit part of the IPCC’s work.
This report identifies key conclusions emerging from the science and how, in the words of the UK Chief Scientist, “Keeping global warming at 1.5°C gives a chance for vulnerable ecosystems, whether coral reefs or insects. It gives us a chance to limit sea-level rise to a manageable level. Because the individuals most at risk are the most deprived and marginalised, it also gives us a chance to avoid putting millions more into poverty”. The links between acting on climate change and the UN Sustainability Goals are clearly identified.
My report concludes with five ‘pointers’ I took from the conference for our own work as Quakers committed to being a low carbon sustainable community. These are:
- When engaging with politicians, concentrate on the gaps and inconsistencies between Government commitments and realities in practice,
- The need to encourage our faith leaders to provide ‘climate leadership’,
- Use broad, linked messages, when communicating with the public,
- Take the lead on the role of the personal behaviour changes needed and
- Encourage a grass roots ‘climate uprising’.