The Emissions Challenge: Reflecting on the IPCC Climate Change Mitigation Report
The report of Working Group III of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was published on 4 April. This working group focuses on climate change mitigation and sets out pathways to reduce our contribution to climate change. The Centre hosted a webinar in which a panel of experts discussed the report’s findings and moderator Caroline O’Doherty, Environment Correspondent with the Irish Independent, asked the panelists for their views on how the necessary emissions cuts could be achieved.
Dr. Diarmuid Torney, Co-Director of the Centre and Associate Professor in the School of Law and Government, argued that, as we now know the technological pathways to a low-carbon world, the focus must move to bringing the public along and that this needs to prioritise fairness and equity.
Dr. James Carton, of DCU’s School of Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering, reflected on the opportunities and challenges of technological innovation to achieve rapid decarbonisation. While the report doesn’t offer any new technological solutions, he singled out the need for electrification and biofuels. However, he noted that both these options require careful consideration as electrification is not achievable across all sectors and biofuels put pressure on land use.
Dr. Sabrina Dekker, Climate Action Coordinator, Dublin City Council, highlighted the report’s findings regarding the role of cities in achieving decarbonisation. Our responses have to take into account the inter-related aspects of mitigation, she said. For example, cities can’t reduce emissions without also considering the impacts on the hinterland. As a result, cost effectiveness can’t be the only factor driving implementation, we also need to consider the place-based impacts.
Gina Hanrahan, Head of Policy and Advocacy, WWF Scotland, pointed out that the report was unequivocal in restating “how much peril we are in and that we are currently way off track”. She highlighted two significant issues. First, “there is no one technological solution to rule them all” and that we need massive changes across all our systems, financial, environmental and societal. Secondly, civil society needs to get better at linking all the inter-related challenges. For example, highlighting that poverty, healthcare and climate change are all connected. As a result, we all have a role to play in every part of our lives and across all sectors.