*Urgent need for system change through just and equitable transition*
18 March 2023
Nearly 200 countries are currently deliberating on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Synthesis Report for the Sixth Assessment cycle. The past six reports by the IPCC have forced a reckoning on the world and its leaders for immediate and transformative action to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and urgently set the world on path for just and equitable transition. The Synthesis Report and IPCC’s ‘Summary for Policymakers’ is a crucial document set to impact this year’s global stocktake of the 2015 Paris Agreement that set the life saving limit of keeping rise in global temperatures well below 1.5 degrees.
The past IPCC reports have confirmed that the impacts of climate change are already being felt around the world, with devastating consequences for ecosystems, human health, and livelihoods. The world is already experiencing more frequent and severe weather events such as floods, droughts, and heatwaves. These events are causing widespread damage to infrastructure and economic activity, leading to food and water scarcity, displacement, and even loss of life. Nearly 3.5 billion people globally are climate vulnerable. Climate justice and human rights movements, scientists and academicians around the world have been advocating for climate action for decades, yet the world leaders have been more focused on listening to fossil fuel lobbyists or pushing profit driven speculative technologies and technofixes. As the world continues to head on to a path of devastation, urgent, real, and decisive action is the only solution to achieve a just and equitable transition.
Representatives of Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice share their demands and expectations from the Synthesis Report for Sixth Assessment Cycle and the Summary for Policymakers by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Lidy Nacpil, Coordinator, Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development
“The very low ambition and even lower delivery of commitments to climate action is evident of the great injustice at the heart of the climate crisis. We are being led down a path of extended life for fossil fuel systems with the push for Gas as transition fuel, and Carbon Capture and Storage, Hydrogen and Ammonia technologies as part of solutions. We reject these false solutions being peddled by wealthy countries. These big polluters have an obligation to deliver a rapid, just and equitable transition directly to 100% renewable energy and provide adequate non-debt creating climate finance for the Global South as part of reparations for climate debt.”
Nathalie Rengifo Alvarez, Latin America Climate Campaign Director, Corporate Accountability
“Just look at the full report. The science and urgency will be unequivocal and deeply disturbing. It will paint a clear picture of what is needed. A swift and just transition to renewables. Fossil fuels need to stay in the ground. Emissions need to be rapidly cut to Real Zero. But the summary for policymakers will likely, as usual, read as though we are living on another planet. The fingerprints of major polluters will be all over the recommendations for action. They’ll read as though we haven’t already crossed devastating and deadly thresholds for life on Earth. This disconnect is intolerable and needs to be remedied by an immediate reset of the system that brought us here and by kicking big polluters out of climate policy.”
Meena Raman, Head of Programmes, Third World Network
“It is vital that the IPCC Synthesis Report (SR) makes clear that the global emissions pathways are based on models whose assumptions fail to make clear that inequities between the Global North and South, intra-regional income distribution and the need for environmental and climate justice have not been taken into account. Hence, the SR in this regard must make clear that these global modelled emissions pathways have to be assessed with the careful recognition of the underlying assumptions.
Policy-makers must not be misled into believing that these emission pathways are fact-based or are policy-prescriptive, when they are really predictions by climate modellers whose assumptions are currently unknown. Accepting them without question risks locking in further inequities between the rich and poor, thus exacerbating climate injustice.
The IPCC data is clear that the developed countries have a historical responsibility for their high emissions since the industrial revolution and have overused the carbon budget required to limit temperature rise to 1.5-degree C. They have and continue to undermine equitable access to the carbon budget. Hence, developed countries should own up to this historical responsibility and deliver on the large amount of climate finance needed to developing countries to enable the just transition pathway to a low carbon future, undertake adaptation actions and address loss and damage, as recognised in the IPCC underlying working group reports.
Developed countries must not be allowed to water-down their lack of fulfillment of the finance delivery in the SR or to shift the responsibilities onto developing countries.”
Susann Scherbarth, Head of Climate Justice, Friends of the Earth Germany/ BUND
“The scientific community is unanimous: emissions must be drastically reduced, even if the 1.5 limit will be exceeded. When it comes to limiting devastating consequences for people, nature and biodiversity, every tenth of a degree counts. The first priority is to reduce emissions, not to extract CO2 after it has already been emitted. The current CCS debate in Germany shows clearly the opposite: the German government is relying on technical false solutions that are dangerous, expensive, and unproven on the scale needed. Waiting and hoping for magic must not be a free pass for doing anything or only little in the here and now as we see in Germany’s mobility and housing sector in particular.
We need politics that treat the climate crisis like a crisis and end inequalities. The status quo of infinite growth in Germany and other rich nations cannot be the future. The end of fossil fuels must come now and our energy consumption must go down drastically while relying on renewable energies and energy efficiency.”
Hemantha Withanage, chair of Friends of the Earth International
“In my country, Sri Lanka, the impacts of climate change are being felt now. We have no time to chase fairy tales of sucking carbon out of the air later, we need to reduce carbon emissions now. We hope that the forthcoming IPCC report will rightly call for a rapid and equitable transition away from fossil fuels, and the need for finance to make it happen. Overshooting the 1.5 degree guardrail will lead to climate chaos, and we fear that reliance on carbon removal technologies will only embolden big polluters to keep emitting as usual.”
David Williams, Director International Climate Justice Program, Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung
“The Synthesis Report of the IPCC, the world’s foremost body on climate change science, is a culmination of almost a decade’s worth of climate observation and modelling. Damningly, according to current projections, we are not only on track to reach 3°C global warming by 2100, but will rocket through to even more dystopian levels, severely constraining living conditions of future generations. Currently, up to 3.6 billion people live in situations of vulnerability, in which fatalities from floods, droughts, and storms are 15 times more likely than in non-vulnerable contexts. As if that weren’t already grave enough, the frequency and intensity of floods, droughts, storms, and other extreme weather events is increasing at a higher pace than initially projected.
In spite of this, fossil fuel companies are achieving record-breaking profits. They are propped up by big banks and neoliberal governments protecting private capital at the expense of public security. Never has the reality been so stark that the climate crisis is a question of power, of western supremacy, and of neocolonial economic structures upon which the wealth of industrialized nations is built.”
Souparna Lahiri, Senior Climate and Biodiversity Policy Advisor, Global Forest Coalition
“The AR6 Synthesis Report of the IPCC report is not likely to spring any surprise. It may paint a more grimmer climate crisis and provide more mitigation options through model pathways. Where IPCC is continuously failing is a response of the scientific community to the false and mitigation- heavy climate solutions that drown out real solutions and climate resilient actions of the frontline communities and unequal climate finance flows to develop such false solutions including large scale CDRs. The drivers of such false solutions, the corporates and multinationals, involved in continuing fossil fuel extraction and unsustainable industrial agriculture and agri-business, are being let off the radar. The impacts of such false solutions, the corporate capture of climate policy making, the rights of Indigenous Peoples, women and local communities and their leading role in transformative actions on the ground, are consistently ignored. Climate modeling alone cannot contribute to the much required transformation without responding and recognising the intersectionality of the climate crisis and the rights and role of the frontline communities.”
Kelly Dent , Global Programme Director- External Engagement, World Animal Protection, Global
“Food systems have long been ignored in the commitment to keep the climate below 1.5 degrees – but we can longer turn a blind eye to science. The evidence is clear. Industrial animal agriculture is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, pollution, and the emergence of zoonotic and AMR superbug diseases, let alone cruel to animals. Governments must now act. They must acknowledge the significant impact factory farming has on our people, animals and planet – and they must take the action required to reign in these hitherto silent climate culprits.”
Stephanie Cabovianco, Climate Save Movement
“The transition to a plant-based food system is not only necessary for our health and the well-being of animals, but also for the survival of our planet in the face of the climate and ecological emergency. The Sixth Assessment Report by the IPCC highlights the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from food systems, which are responsible for up to 37% of global emissions. A shift towards plant-based diets can significantly reduce these emissions, while also conserving biodiversity, reducing deforestation, and improving land and water use efficiency. It’s time for us to recognize the power of food production and consumption and take action for a sustainable present.”
Shefali Sharma, Director of Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP)’s European office
“The summary of IPCC’s findings about the dramatic need to cut emissions should be a wake up call to regulate all major polluters. For the food and farm sector, big livestock, agrochemical and major grain processing companies are the primary culprits of agricultural emissions. Together, they have driven large scale deforestation, polluted our lands and rivers and still continue to operate with impunity. The IPCC emphasizes the urgency to reduce highly potent GHGs methane and nitrous oxide, where large-scale agriculture is a major source. Governments need to regulate big ag’s emissions, and support a just transition for farming that restores ecosystems and treats people in the food system with dignity.”
Nick Buxton, Transnational Institute
‘The IPCC’s report makes clear that any solutions to protect those most impacted by the climate crisis have to be rooted in justice. Yet the richest nations are spending 30 times as much on the military as they do on climate finance, and are yet to even commit proper funds for the loss and damage caused by the climate crisis. We need to move from a focus on managing the consequences of climate change to addressing its root causes. This requires reducing military and security budgets so we can massively increase the financial support to communities and countries so they can reduce emissions and prepare ways to adapt and respond justly to climate impacts.’
Deborah Burton, TPNS/Transform Defence Project
“As we digest the findings of this final synthesis report we can be sure of one thing: that it will be missing the military emissions that governments are choosing not to report. Yet military emissions account to 5.5% of global emissions, more than civilian aviation and shipping combined. This does not include emissions from conflicts, nor attendant destruction and reconstruction. As we look forward to the AR7 Cycle, civil society is calling for military emissions to be on the IPCC agenda in the hope that we can move towards a Special Report on the Military and Climate Change. The annual $2 trillion spent on the world’s fossil-fuel-reliant militaries is fuelling climate change, robbing funds from climate finance and failing to deliver human safety in this time of climate emergency.”
Ellie Kinney, the Military Emissions Gap – The Conflict and Environment Observatory
“The findings of the latest IPCC report offer a concerning glimpse into our future. At this stage of the climate crisis, no sector can be exempt from climate action. Militaries are huge energy users whose greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for an estimated 5.5% of global emissions. Initial estimates into the environmental impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine suggest that the conflict is responsible for additional emissions equivalent to that of a country like the Netherlands over the same time period. However, because reporting military emissions to the UNFCCC is voluntary, data is often absent or incomplete, leaving a potentially huge blind spot in our climate action. The IPCC has the opportunity to highlight the scale of the military emissions gap to Governments and policy-makers and this should be a priority for AR7. We would welcome an IPCC Special Report on the military and climate change, but at the very least military emissions should be acknowledged within the AR7 cycle.”
Quotes in other languages
Stephanie Cabovianco, Climate Save Movement
[ESPAÑOL] “La transición a un sistema alimentario basado en plantas no solo es necesaria para nuestra salud y el bienestar de los animales, sino también para la supervivencia de nuestro planeta frente a la emergencia climática y ecológica. El Sexto Informe de Evaluación del IPCC destaca la necesidad urgente de reducir las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero de los sistemas alimentarios, que son responsables de hasta el 37 % de las emisiones globales. Un cambio hacia dietas basadas en plantas puede reducir significativamente estas emisiones, al tiempo que conserva la biodiversidad, reduce la deforestación y mejora la tierra y la eficiencia en el uso del agua. Es hora de que reconozcamos el poder de la producción y el consumo de alimentos y tomemos medidas para un presente sostenible”.
Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice is a network of over 200 networks and organizations working globally, regionally, and locally on climate justice. Collectively we represent millions of climate activists on the ground.
Our members are available for comments and interviews in different languages. Please contact Rachitaa at [email protected] to arrange interviews.