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Reactions from Denmark to the UN’s climate report: disturbing news, but hope is not lost

By State of Green, 08 Oct 2018

The long awaited report from the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change paints a gloomy picture. While the Danish Energy Minister has dubbed the report bleak and called for concerted international efforts, the business community in Denmark is more optimistic.

On Monday, the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (known as the IPCC) released its Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C, which is a key scientific input into the UN’s Climate Change Conference taking place in Poland this December. Known as COP24, the conference gathers governments to review the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change.

The full title of the report is Global Warming of 1.5°C, an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty. The report presents the impact a 1.5°C or 2°C temperature increase before the end of this century will have on our climate. Failure to limit increases would lead to an increase in extreme weather events, eradication of a number of species, a decrease in biodiversity, negative consequences regarding health, living, the security of humans, the food and water supply and economic growth.

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The report emphasises that unless CO2-emissions are reduced significantly, the outlook for the future of our climate is a negative one and the possibility to attain the Paris agreement’s objective of limiting global temperature increases is unlikely. Furthermore, the report finds that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require ‘rapid and far-reaching’ transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050. This means that any remaining emissions would need to be balanced by removing CO2 from the air.

‘Now we know the results of the IPCC report and they emphasise the need to develop radical green technologies and changes in the way we live. Doing so is an urgent necessity to reduce climate change. We need to work fast, and it requires political will and courage. Denmark stands ready to help, said the Danish Minister of Energy, Utilities and Climate, Lars Chr. Lilleholt.

The Danish government are to preparing to release their proposed climate and clean air strategy later this week, which aims to ensure Denmark’s goals of becoming a climate-neutral nation by 2050 can become a reality.

While the interest organisation for the private sector in Denmark echoed Minister Lilleholt’s statement about the necessity to act now and stressed the need for action in Denmark, at the European Union level, as well as globally, it also emphasised that it isn’t too late to halt irreversible change.

’It is possible to reduce CO2 emissions considerably. We can achieve a lot with the solutions we already use today. However, they can’t do everything and we need more people to take responsibility. We have a lot of competencies in Denmark, which should be utilised more. We need to investigate new initiatives that concern carbon capture and land use. All solutions should be considered’, said the Head of the Confederation of Danish Industry’s Energy department, Troels Ranis.

1.5°C requires an increased effort
The report emphasises that a 1.5°C or a 2°C increase in global temperatures affect the extent of climate change considerably. For example, sea levels will rise 10cm less if the temperature increases by 1.5°C compared to 2°C. In addition, scientists expect the Arctic ocean to be without ice during the summer once a century in a scenario with a 1.5°C temperature increase, and once every ten years if the temperature increases by 2°C.

Based on ambitions that have been disclosed during the international climate negotiations, it is more likely that global temperatures will increase by 3°C in 2100.

‘’The Danish government is focussed on exerting pressure on international society to lift climate ambitions – a  3°C temperature increase cannot happen. Everyone needs to take responsibility to reduce the highly visible consequences of climate change we see around the globe. We will exert pressure on the European Union and in our international cooperation and we will stress this during the COP24 event happening in Poland in December, to ensure United Nation countries take joint responsibility’’, said Lars Chr. Lilleholt.

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The IPCC report
The report consists of 800 pages, where more than 200 writers have examined and compiled information from 6000 research-articles. Experts have been consulted about the report twice and the report’s authors have assessed 42,000 comments.

The report was finally approved after a one-week meeting in South Korea, which included government delegates from approximately 195 countries. Two employees from DMI (Danish Meteorological Institute) represented Denmark. During the meeting, the report’s main authors and government representatives ensured that the report’s summary were understandable, relevant and factually correct for decision makers.

The long and thorough process ensures credibility, and mean that the report plays a significant role when the international climate negotiations continue later this year.

Commenting on the report, Debra Roberts, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II stated: ‘The decisions we make today are critical in ensuring a safe and sustainable world for everyone, both now and in the future. This report gives policymakers and practitioners the information they need to make decisions that tackle climate change while considering local context and people’s needs. The next few years are probably the most important in our history’.

Read the full report at the IPCC website: http://www.ipcc.ch/

-Sources: The Danish Ministry of Energy, Utilities and Climate, The Confederation of Danish Industry and the IPCC

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