A forthcoming UN report will say there is still time to prevent runaway climate change, but only if investment is rapidly shifted away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy, campaigners have said.
Due for publication on Sunday after a week of deliberations, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Working Group III report will attempt to explain how global warming can be limited to 2C from pre-industrial levels – the point above which scientists fear a number of climate “tipping points” will be crossed.
The report is expected to say that it is not too late, but warns that nations must drastically cut their greenhouse gas emissions.
According to various news outlets that have accessed draft copies, scientists say spending on renewables must increase by $147 billion (£88 billion) each year.
Meanwhile, investments in fossil fuels such as oil and coal would have to drop by $30 billion (£18 billion) a year, as renewable energy’s share of global production will have to rise from 17% in 2010 to about 50% in 2050.
Jamie Henn, strategy and communications director at the environmental campaign group 350.org, said the report directly connects climate change to the fossil fuel industry.
“The report makes it clear that in order to meet their agreed goal of keeping global warming below 2C, governments need to get serious about leaving fossil fuels in the ground,” he said.
“That means stopping carbon-intensive infrastructure projects, like the Keystone XL pipeline, and shifting investments out of the fossil fuel industry and into solutions.”
350.org’s divestment campaign, which is based on analysis by the UK thinktank Carbon Tracker, has been at the forefront of calls for institutional investors to ditch their holdings in fossil fuel companies.
European divestment co-ordinator Tim Ratcliffe added, “Investors now have scientific evidence that if you put your money into fossil fuels you are complicit in wrecking our future.
“We have the solutions to make the shift from fossil fuels to renewables. But we need to stop pumping money into a rogue industry that is determined to maximise its profits at any cost.”
Meanwhile, Andy Atkins, executive director of the environmental charity Friends of the Earth, added, “We’re already on track for 4C warming which will be impossible for human society to adapt to.
“We have the technology to prevent dangerous climate change. What we lack is the political will of our leaders to strongly champion renewable power and energy efficiency.”
However, some commentators have expressed concern that the IPCC’s report does not lay out the economic case for action clearly enough for investors and policymakers.
According to Reuters, governments are disappointed that the costs and benefits of different measures are not compared in the drafts.
The chair of the IPCC Rajendra Pachauri told the news agency, “We provide much more economic analysis this time, but we are not putting that forward as the only impact.”
The need for a transition to a low-carbon global economy was clearly presented by the IPCC’s second report, last month’s stark description of the devastating likely impacts of global warming.
According to a separate report published this week, renewable energy accounted for 44% of newly-installed electricity generating capacity in 2013, but investment in cleantech fell due to falling costs and policy uncertainty.
The UN-commissioned 2014 Global Trends In Renewable Energy Investment report said that despite an increase in renewable energy installations, which helped save 1.2 gigatonnes of emissions, investment dropped in absolute terms by 14% in 2013.
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