Climate scientist denounces IPCC projections

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s projections about future global warming are “wildly over optimistic”, a climate expert has claimed. The comments come as a new chairman is appointed to the IPCC.

As a new chairman is appointed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a climate expert has said headline projections from the organisation about future warming are “wildly over optimistic”.

University of Manchester Professor Kevin Anderson commented in an article published in Nature Geoscience that IPCC claims that “global economic growth would not be strongly effected” are unrealistic. He said that if we are to meet the two degrees Celsius warming target, wealthy and high emitting individuals will need to make dramatic cuts in the energy they use and in the material goods they consume.

He added that they would have to accept immediate and fundamental changes to their way of life – at least until the transition away from fossil fuels is complete.

His claims are a wake-up call to Professor Hoesung Lee, who was installed at the new IPCC chair last week. They are also well timed in the lead-up to the climate negotiations in Paris later this year.

A statement last year from the IPCC said that “to keep a good chance of staying below 2°C, and at manageable costs, our emissions should drop by 40–70 per cent globally between 2010 and 2050, falling to zero or below by 2100”, and that mitigation costs would be so low that “global economic growth would not be strongly affected.”

Professor Anderson noted: “If the IPCC’s up-beat headlines are to be believed, reducing emissions in line with a reasonable-to-good chance of meeting the 2 °C target requires an accelerated, but still evolutionary, move away from fossil fuels; they notably do not call for an immediate and revolutionary transition in how we use and produce energy.

“Yet, in my view, the IPCC’s own carbon budgets make it abundantly clear that only a revolutionary transition can now deliver on 2°C.”

According to Anderson, the IPCC’s positive outcomes are “delivered through unrealistically early peaks in global emissions, or through the large-scale rollout of speculative technologies intended to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.”

He said: “In stark contrast, I conclude that the carbon budgets associated with a 2 °C threshold demand profound and immediate changes to the consumption and production of energy.”

Photo credit: Craig ONeal/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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