Do we need an IPCC special report for humans?

The latest IPCC report, entitled Global Warming of 1.5C, is a special report for policy makers. It is a terrifyingly detailed and specific depiction of the foreseeable impacts of climate change if we overshoot the 1.5C target agreed to in the 2015 Paris Agreement. That is, of course, for the few among us with the time to unpick the true meaning behind the carefully chosen and debated scientific and political language.

In debating the report with a colleague, he remarked “it’s basically telling us we are doomed, and in a pretty short amount of time.”

This blunt summary was so remarkably refreshing, after having invested the afternoon deciphering and contemplating the meaning behind the carefully chosen words of the IPCC 1.5 report. It led me to wonder whether the time is right to produce a special report for humans. One that better illustrates what a transition to a zero carbon economy really means for the day-to-day lives of humans, of all of us.

A special report that is less spreadsheet and jargon, more family and hugs.

For decades climate change has been discussed and debated through the lens of science and multi-lateral policy making. It’s a conversation that is heavily laden with unique, specialist terms and probabilistic statements. Use of language such as non-linear system collapses, complex systems transformations, and economic trade-offs may well be accurate but it doesn’t immediately connect and resonate. None of these words mean very much unless you happen to have already spent the past decade and more thinking about climate change.

I’m increasingly conscious that the language we use as a climate community is so remarkably detached from the language we use at home around the kitchen table – with our families and friends who we work so hard to care for and protect – that it encroaches on the absurd.

So how can we share what the IPCC report is telling us, in a way that works around the kitchen table? Or perhaps even the Ryanair boardroom table? Or the Board of Trustees of major pension funds?

Can we make climate change more tangible, more illustrative and more connected and try to provoke an honest human-to-human conversation about what this really means for you and I?

If we are indeed to achieve a net-zero economy by 2050, or perhaps more wisely by 2035 as far as Europe is concerned[1], then we need our families and colleagues to be fully on board with both the scale of the challenge and the fundamental change that this entails for almost every part of our life.

For this to happen we need to reframe the conversation from a global debate and negotiation between policy-makers, to a discussion around the kitchen table  that is brutally honest about the situation we are in.

As Professor Jem Bendell at the University of Cumbria recently noted, “in a supportive environment, where we have enjoyed community with each other, enjoying nature before looking at this information and possible framings for it, something positive happens. I have witnessed a shedding of concern for conforming to the status quo, and a new creativity about what to focus on going forward”[2]. In other words, a sense of purpose, a sense of meaning, and the shared inspiration to join together with other humans to break the paralysis and “muster the full force of human ingenuity to the challenge”[3].

The global climate system is complex, so too are the economic, financial and governance systems that we overlay upon it. But within all of these systems are humans. Every day people who go to work, read the news and hope to enjoy a meal and a chat with their family in the evening. All of these systems are now in grave peril, and so too the humans within them. And yet here were are with emissions continuing to increase, rather than on the steep downward trajectory that we know is required.

So in the weeks ahead you might discuss the IPCC report with your colleagues, acquaintances and families. I would suggest to take the time to imagine the future together. What does it mean when every coal mine town has no jobs in five years’ time? What does it mean when in ten years’ time if no airlines can fly over Europe? How do we feed our families if there’s an extended drought which causes mass crop failure? What is the point of putting away money into a pension fund if that fund is investing in a way that just makes things worse? And what are we going to do about it?

Through this human conversation perhaps we can take the abstract, and make it real. One would hope this would help more humans to ditch their spreadsheets and their despair and start positively working together to sort this out. We need to get to net-zero, and we need to get there really fast – agreements and policy are vital, but billions of people getting stuck in and doing what we do best, being human, making mistakes but together finding a way through even the most difficult of challenges. And make no mistake, keeping warming below 1.5° C is the most difficult of all challenges that we face.

Do we need an IPCC special report for humans? The answer is yes.

[1] Some European cities, sectors and businesses have already made commitments and published detailed plans to achieve net-zero emissions by 2035, including Helsinki: https://inhabitat.com/helsinki-unveils-plan-to-reach-carbon-neutrality-by-2035/

[2] https://www.lifeworth.com/deepadaptation.pdf

[3] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jsi5Vp_6tdE

 

 
Location
Articles you may be interested in
Opinion
System innovation is needed to help regions shift to a low-carbon economy
System innovation is needed to help regions shift to a low-carbon economy
In The News
COP24: Social innovation to drive just transition of coal regions

With the carbon costs of travel in mind, key...

COP24: Social innovation to drive just transition of coal regions
In Detail
DLT for climate action assessment

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT Over the past decade, we’ve witnessed a myriad of milestones that have put the vision of a prosperous, climate-resilient society on...

DLT for climate action assessment
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC’s ConnectedClusters launches at EUROCITIES

EIT Climate-KIC’s ConnectedClusters project—which aims to accelerate innovation clusters...

EIT Climate-KIC’s ConnectedClusters launches at EUROCITIES
Opinion
St. Patrick is on a Mission – #MissionFinance 1.5 C
Sandra Vlašić, Partnerships, Resources and Stories Terra Hub
St. Patrick is on a Mission – #MissionFinance 1.5 C
In our community
EIT Climate-KIC to showcase its top 30 cleantech startups during Slush 2018
EIT Climate-KIC to showcase its top 30 cleantech startups during Slush 2018
In The News
How to unlock the finance needed for integrated landscape approaches

Why integrated landscape approaches matter and how to unlock...

How to unlock the finance needed for integrated landscape approaches
In The News
Regional Innovation Scheme start-ups showcase cleantech achievements supported...

Last month (October 2018) in Vienna, Austria, 32 start-ups...

Regional Innovation Scheme start-ups showcase cleantech achievements supported by EIT Climate-KIC
In The News
City Finance Lab explores new advisory services to catalyse investment in sust...

With the carbon costs of travel in mind, Climate...

City Finance Lab explores new advisory services to catalyse investment in sustainable cities
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC responds to consultation on Long-Term Strategy for EU GHG emis...

As an active member of the community working to...

EIT Climate-KIC responds to consultation on Long-Term Strategy for EU GHG emissions reduction
Opinion
Distributed ledger technologies are here to stay
Dr. Harald Rauter Regional Innovation Lead, Climate-KIC
Distributed ledger technologies are here to stay
In The News
Search for 100 1.5C-compatible investments launched

The EU-backed Mission Innovation initiative has launched a framework...

Search for 100 1.5C-compatible investments launched
In The News
Can self-reporting be effective for investors?

Most climate and ESG data is self-reported – can...

Can self-reporting be effective for investors?
In The News
Risky business: Why 1.5C-aligned strategies are key to preserving capital

Decision-makers with responsibility for capital need to make bold,...

Risky business: Why 1.5C-aligned strategies are key to preserving capital
In The News
No alternative: Making sustainable infrastructure the only option

Only a fraction of global climate finance is reaching...

No alternative: Making sustainable infrastructure the only option
In The News
Could ambitious financial regulation be a key driver of climate action?

With the carbon costs of travel in mind, Climate...

Could ambitious financial regulation be a key driver of climate action?
In The News
Bridging the climate adaptation investment gap

Financing climate adaptation took centre-stage at Day 2 of...

Bridging the climate adaptation investment gap
In Detail
Techno-economic assessment and life cycle assessment guidelines for CO2 util...

CO2 utilisation technologies, also known as carbon capture and utilisation (CCU) or CO2 re-use, capture CO2 and convert it into new products or services....

Techno-economic assessment and life cycle assessment guidelines for CO2 utilisation
In The News
Re-Industrialise launches at the European Week of Cities and Regions

EIT Climate-KIC and partners recently launched the Re-Industrialise programme,...

Re-Industrialise launches at the European Week of Cities and Regions
In Detail
Reframing our current approach to urban transformations

EIT Climate-KIC gathered the outputs and lessons-learned from an urban transformations community workshop in Malaga, which saw more than 100 city leaders and teams...

Reframing our current approach to urban transformations
Opinion
Reframing perspectives on climate change
Reframing perspectives on climate change
Opinion
Only 20 companies in the world provide 100 per cent greenhouse gas emissions disclosure – Are ...
Only 20 companies in the world provide 100 per cent greenhouse gas emissions disclosure – Are investors in the dark on climate risks?
In The News
Gaining a better understanding of climate risk

The roadblocks that stand in the way of companies...

Gaining a better understanding of climate risk
In The News
The power of persuasion: Great Debate changes audience’s mind on self-re...

With the carbon costs of travel in mind, Climate...

The power of persuasion: Great Debate changes audience’s mind on self-reporting
In The News
A masterclass on climate-related financial disclosure

If we want to keep on track with the...

A masterclass on climate-related financial disclosure
In The News
Transforming financial sector’s core value system may be essential to 1.5C

With the carbon costs of travel in mind, Climate...

Transforming financial sector’s core value system may be essential to 1.5C
In The News
Curbing carbon emissions in company value chains

Most of the world’s largest companies account and report...

Curbing carbon emissions in company value chains
In The News
One hundred 1.5C compatible investments by 2030

New investor framework launched today at European Climate Innovation...

One hundred 1.5C compatible investments by 2030
In The News
‘Fearless Girl’ appears at EIT Climate-KIC’s Climate Innovation Summit

Fearless Girl—the famous bronze statue erected in Lower Manhattan...

‘Fearless Girl’ appears at EIT Climate-KIC’s Climate Innovation Summit
In our community
Interview with Leeor Groen, Venture Manager, Blockchain Valley Ventures
Interview with Leeor Groen, Venture Manager, Blockchain Valley Ventures