- Matt Magrath
- BBC environment correspondent
UN scientists worked over the weekend to complete a major report on how to reduce the greenhouse gases that are causing global warming.
Members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are likely to advise a rapid transition away from fossil fuels over the next eight years.
They will also suggest the widespread use of decarbonization technology to reduce dangerous warming.
But disagreements over the exact wording of the document delayed the agreement.
On Monday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is due to publish its findings on what we can do to stop climate change.
Most of the world’s leading researchers are involved In the field of climate change in preparing the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Governments use their summaries of the latest science, produced every six or seven years, in their negotiations on climate change, such as the one at the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2021 last November.
These IPCC reports are seen as the best, if somewhat conservative, compared to climate science.
Over the past two weeks, IPCC scientists and government officials from around the world have been engaged in virtual meetings to agree on the drafting of the reports, reviewing the latest report on how to stop climate change line by line.
This new study will be the third of three important documents issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in the past eight months.
The previous two examined the causes and effects of climate change, but this will focus on mitigation – or what we can do to stop it.
Essentially, this means that researchers will look at how to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases generated by human activities.
A major part of the briefing report will show what the world can do between now and 2030 to reduce heating.
Scientists from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change previously warned that to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees Celsius this century, greenhouse gas emissions must be halved by the end of this decade.
In this new study, researchers are likely to encourage a rapid reduction in fossil fuel use, particularly over the next eight years.
But this is a sensitive issue, as many major developing countries say they should have the right to continue using coal, oil and gas for a longer period to help develop their economies.
Some major fossil fuel producers are also reluctant to embrace the urgency of cutting off these fuels that scientists say are absolutely necessary.
Other countries also have questions about the use of nuclear energy.
Because of these divisions, the approval session continued beyond the date officially scheduled to close the session on Friday.
According to one person familiar with the proceedings, it is not surprising that the talks have been delayed as everyone is aware of the implications this report will have on decisions that need to be made in the next few years.
Another major part of the report will be focusing on methods for removing carbon dioxide from the air.
The decarbonization methods that the report will consider will likely include tree planting and agriculture in general, as well as more advanced technologies that use large machines to remove carbon from the air.
They will also look at joint approaches, where the land is used to grow crops that can be burned for energy while sequestering and burying carbon.
The use of these types of technology is controversial. Campaigners express skepticism that it can be made economically viable, and there are also concerns that the technology can be taken as an excuse not to make the major changes needed in energy production.
However, scientists say the situation is now so serious that carbon dioxide removal will be needed in addition to massive emissions reductions.
The discussions to approve the summary of the report for policymakers, scheduled for Monday, were one of the longest in the IPCC’s history.
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