Comments on upcoming IPCC WG3 climate report

Experts comment ahead of the publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Working Group III report, which will be released on Monday 4th April.

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By George Smeeton

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If you would like to be put in touch with any of these experts, some of whom spoke at a recent ECIU media briefing, please do let us know.

Speaking about the implications of the IPCC report, Bim Afolami, Member of Parliament for Hitchin and Harpenden and chair of APPG for Renewable and Sustainable Energy, said:  “The IPCC couldn’t be clearer: we are running out of time, impacts are worse than expected, and we need to accelerate collective action on climate. But at a time of multiple global crises, this latest report offers potential solutions to avert the worst climate impacts.

“The answer is net-zero. The UK has led the way and, with the UK’s COP presidency driving global action, we are continuing to lead from the front. Although cutting emissions requires greater investment, it will be far more economically and socially painful if climate change continues to wreak havoc. We cannot afford to ignore this, and Global Britain should continue to lead the way with economically viable innovations in renewable energy generation and storage, reducing waste, decarbonising industry and, above all, ensuring that we protect our natural environment.”

Speaking about what the IPCC report means for world leaders at a time of growing international tension, Rachel Kyte, Dean of The Fletcher School at Tufts University said: “We are at a moment of increasing tension around the world, with every excuse possible for distraction and delay. We are at a point where the developed economies have kicked the can down the road for a long time - we have begun to act, begun to show we can delink growth and prosperity from the amount of carbon in the economy, and the public is persuaded that this is the way forward.

“We now have to put our arms around a new form of energy security – one that embraces everyone; a new kind of politics. This puts extraordinary pressure on the leaders of the G7 and the G20 because at the moment, that conversation is not taking place with a level of seriousness that this moment calls for. And so we are at a moment of reckoning and the IPCC report just puts an exclamation point at the end of that.”

Reflecting on what the IPCC report tells us, gaps and opportunities ahead, Michael Grubb, Professor of Energy and Climate Change at University College London said: “Over the last decade, there’s been a considerable broadening of our understanding that this issue is a lot bigger, broader, and more sophisticated. And, in some ways, even more hopeful, in the sense that we have these changes in the technologies, and we have examples of countries that have sustained emissions reductions. But we have seen that a lot of things which analysts think make sense and could be good economics still haven’t happened because of policy and politics.”

“There’s that Churchillian phrase – never waste a crisis … We’re in a situation where new zero-carbon electricity costs between half and one third of what we’re now paying for electricity. If that’s not an opportunity economically and politically, then I don’t know what is. … To solve long-term problems, you’ve sometimes got to look a long-way back. We’ve now had five decades of repeated fossil fuel crises since the 1970s. We should ensure this is the last one.”

Looking at what the IPCC report means for the UK, Sam Hall, Director of the Conservative Environment Network (CEN) said: “The case for reducing fossil fuel consumption across the economy has only got stronger. Fossil fuels are now much more expensive than they were; getting off them therefore helps with the cost of living. There’s now also the additional national security imperative, to eliminate Russian fossil fuels imports. Political drivers for the government remain the same in terms of delivering on its COP presidency commitments, and net zero was a prominent commitment in the 2019 manifesto; two years out from an election, the government will want to be seen to have delivered on that. Opinion polls continue to show strong support for net-zero with clear majorities across all demographics.

“Overall, it’s clear that different goals – energy security, the cost of living, and net zero – all pull in the same direction. There is no need to trade off the short term against climate action and climate targets. The answer remains the same in all cases: clean energy deployment, reducing fossil fuel consumption, and improving energy efficiency.”

Prof. Emily Shuckburgh, Director of Cambridge Zero at the University of Cambridge said: “This is a preventable global crisis. Not only do we know  how  to cut emissions and adapt, but we already have almost all the tools we need to avert the worst impacts. Yet we are a long way from being on track: global pledges do not yet add up to the cuts needed and too many big emitters are not making enough progress on delivering them.”

“With less than eight months until COP27 in Egypt, the UK presidency focus must be on ensuring big emitters deliver on climate plans while themselves demonstrating global leadership.”

Gareth Redmond-King, International Lead at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) said: “Last year’s IPCC report sounded the alarm, and their impacts report earlier this year was frankly terrifying. This third report, though, sets out the solutions. It sets out, in some detail, how we respond to the alarm and avoid the apocalyptic future we know we’re heading for if we don’t act.

“It is clear that the solutions are cheaper than the impacts – that acting to tackle the climate crisis is cheaper than not acting. It is now down to political leaders – particularly G20 leaders, as the largest economies and biggest emitters – to choose how bad we let things get. We have the evidence, the tools, and the public support that those leaders need to choose a safer, healthier, more prosperous future.”

On UK aid and climate finance risk:

In the context of the new IPCC report and growing international impacts, pressures, and tensions, Rachel Kytecomments on mooted UK plans to cut UK overseas finance for climate: “These rumours that the UK is going to take a machete to its overseas development assistance budget in order to open up financial headroom for the response to the impacts of Ukraine is really worrying. It goes to the question of can we walk & chew gum at the same time. This is a poly-crisis, with fossil fuels at its heart, and we are gonna have to get out of it by doing an ‘all of the above’ [response]”.

Talking also about speculation that climate change may be deprioritised in the forthcoming international development strategy, Sam Hall said: “We absolutely need to be accelerating the shift away from fossil fuels and using our platform as COP26 president to drive that shift. The Russian invasion of Ukraine underscores the importance of having climate change as a key priority within the international development strategy. We have to support developing countries to build their domestic green energy sources, to get off Russian gas, and also to build more resilient food systems so again, they’re less dependent on Russian exports of grain and other agricultural commodities.”

Notes to editors:

The IPCC is meeting virtually to consider the contribution of Working Group 3 (WG3) to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), between 21st March and 1st April, 2022 – the 14th session of Working Group 3, and the 56th session of the IPCC.

This session will consider the Summary for Policymakers (SPM), which will be approved line-by-line by government representatives, working with report authors. The IPCC will then formally accept the report.

After closure of the session, an online press conference will take place at 10am BST (London) on Monday 4th April to introduce the report, as it is published. The press conference will also be live-streamed publicly.

The Summary for Policymakers, press release and related materials will be made available to registered media under embargo, shortly after approval of the SPM, with the embargo ending as the press conference begins.

Press accreditation for IPCC meetings can be applied for via this link. To receive embargoed materials, you must check the option for ‘embargo’ on the form. Registration for the press conference is not necessary just to view the live stream, but if you wish to be able to ask questions, then you will need to register using this form.

For more information:

George Smeeton, Head of Communications, ECIU, Tel: 07894 571 153, email: