US scientists call for halt on further IPCC reports until governments take climate action

Energy & Climate Change, Management & Regulation

Reports produced by The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN’s body for assessing the science related to climate change, go on to influence climate policy and decision-making around the globe.

But despite the detailed information they provide on climate change, its causes, potential impacts and response options, three academics from the US and Australia have argued that a moratorium on the comprehensive Assessment Reports should be put in place until governments around the world have truly mobilise targeted climate action measures.

Writing in The Conversation Bruce Glavovic professor at Massey University, Iain White professor of Environmental Planning at the University of Waikato and Tim Smith professor and ARC Future Fellow at the University of the Sunshine Coast, argued that while potentially ‘unpalatable’ the above option is the ‘only way to overcome the tragedy of climate change science’.

They write: ‘We question whether it is our “duty” to use public funds to continue to refine the state of climate change knowledge (which is unlikely to lead to the actions required), or whether a more radical approach will serve society better.

‘We have reached a critical juncture for humanity and the planet. Given the unfolding tragedy, a moratorium on climate change research is the only responsible option for revealing and then restoring the broken science-society contract.’

A post-COP26 analysis last year from Climate Action Tracker (CAT) – an independent scientific analysis produced by two research organisations tracking climate action since 2009 – seemed to support the idea that climate code reds had failed to translate into meaningful progress on 2030 targets for climate action worldwide.

They revealed that only one country – The Gambia – rated as having overall climate action that is consistent with the Paris Agreement 1.5˚C warming limit according to the CAT’s newly-updated rating method.

Three out of four BRIC nations fell into the ‘highly insufficient’ category, while the UK was classified under the ‘almost sufficient’ category.

“In May, after the Climate Leaders’ Summit and the Petersburg dialogue, we reported that there appeared to be good momentum with new climate action commitments, but governments then had only closed the emissions gap by up to 14 percent,” Niklas Höhne, of NewClimate Institute, a CAT partner organisation, commented at the time.

“But since then, there has been little to no improvement: nothing is moving. Governments have now closed the gap by up to 15 per cent, a minimal improvement since May. Anyone would think they have all the time in the world, when in fact the opposite is the case.”

Read our take on the IPCC’s most recent report: the AR6 Assessment here.

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