The focus is on unlikely risks, not on what’s realistic
The articles about the Climate Status Report of the IPCC Working Group 2 could hardly be more different. The German evening news:
The German government sees the new report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as grounds to step up its efforts for more climate protection. Anna Lührmann (Green Party), Minister of State at the Federal Foreign Office, assessed the report as ‘a flaming document about a burning world.’ ‘There is no time to lose, we must act immediately,’ Lührmann said. The report highlights ‘dramatic impacts of climate change for our planet’ that are already worse than previously expected by science, she said. Therefore, she said, greenhouse gas emissions must be significantly reduced even before 2030. Climate change is increasingly also a security policy problem, Lührmann said. She pointed to the IPCC’s statement that more than 3.3 billion people are now ‘highly affected by the impacts of climate change.’ But where ‘human security is threatened, peace between people is also at risk,’ warned the Minister of State.”
Journalist Axel Bojanowski at Welt (paywall) sees it somewhat differently. He compares it to the business of insurance: the business of fear.
While the first part of the climate report soberly and seriously presented the alarming physical basis of warming, the “Summary for Policy Makers” of the second part of the report is more like the brochure of an insurance company that wants to sell its policies: The focus is on risks, not on their realistic classification.
The climate report prominently presents future scenarios that have long been disproven: The so-called “SSP 8.5” and “SSP 7.0” scenarios each show temperature forecasts that, according to studies, are no longer compatible with expected CO2 emissions. Accordingly, mankind would have to permanently multiply the burning of coal – a scenario that scientists now rule out, and a corresponding expansion of coal-fired power plants appears impossible.”
At Twitter, Roger Pielke Jr. notes that the majority of the scenarios in the new IPCC report are based on the models that are considered implausible. Or, to put it another way, all fossil energy sources known today would have to be burned by the end of the century in order to achieve the levels that are apparently considered “business as usual.”
But whether that’s realistic, and whether politicians will consider that when reading the report?