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
In The News
Call for proposals: Scaling the New European Bauhaus Ventures

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has...

Call for proposals: Scaling the New European Bauhaus Ventures
In The News
Glasgow City Region in the race to resilience

Glasgow, which is hosting this year’s UN Climate Change...

Glasgow City Region in the race to resilience
In The News
Gipuzkoa’s quest for sustainability

Gipuzkoa, the smallest Spanish province located in the Basque...

Gipuzkoa’s quest for sustainability
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC to host week-long celebration of climate innovators

The EIT Climate-KIC Week of Action will celebrate, recognise...

EIT Climate-KIC to host week-long celebration of climate innovators
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC launches new series of circular economy courses

As companies and practitioners around the world are looking...

EIT Climate-KIC launches new series of circular economy courses
In The News
NetZeroCities: the new project leading European cities’ transition to net-ze...

Starting in October 2021, the new project NetZeroCities will...

NetZeroCities: the new project leading European cities’ transition to net-zero emissions by 2030
In The News
In the face of complex challenges, Europe stronger together, says EU President...

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen outlined her...

In the face of complex challenges, Europe stronger together, says EU President von der Leyen
In The News
New IPCC report reveals urgent need for climate innovation

The IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report has launched. The report...

New IPCC report reveals urgent need for climate innovation
In The News
Moving beyond ‘brown coal’ in Europe’s rural regions

Together with Partners, EIT Climate-KIC is leading a process...

Moving beyond ‘brown coal’ in Europe’s rural regions
In The News
EU’s “Fit for 55” to spur policy innovation for climate action

The European Commission has released its “Fit for 55”...

EU’s “Fit for 55” to spur policy innovation for climate action
In The News
Munich Re and ERGO invest in EIT Climate-KIC carbon removal programme

Major German corporate group sets the ambition to accelerate...

Munich Re and ERGO invest in EIT Climate-KIC carbon removal programme
In The News
23 pilot projects selected by EIT to unlock higher education’s innovation po...

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has...

23 pilot projects selected by EIT to unlock higher education’s innovation potential in Europe
In The News
Investing in start-ups scales the offering of climate adaptation solutions in ...

A partnership between EIT Climate-KIC and CDC Group, the...

Investing in start-ups scales the offering of climate adaptation solutions in African and South Asian countries
In The News
Irish Aid extends support for innovation and development from the ground up

The Government of Ireland’s development assistance programme, Irish Aid,...

Irish Aid extends support for innovation and development from the ground up
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC showcases climate innovation at R&I Days

EIT Climate-KIC participated in the European Commission’s Research and...

EIT Climate-KIC showcases climate innovation at R&I Days
In The News
Branch Magazine wins Ars Electronica Award for Digital Humanity

Branch Magazine, a collaboration between EIT Climate-KIC, Mozilla Foundation...

Branch Magazine wins Ars Electronica Award for Digital Humanity
In The News
Cross-KIC project to boost circular economy in Western Balkans

The circular economy concept is of crucial importance to...

Cross-KIC project to boost circular economy in Western Balkans
In The News
Exploring new horizons with Pioneers into Practice

Enrolment is now open for placement hosts and participants...

Exploring new horizons with Pioneers into Practice
In The News
Circular bioeconomy start-up receives €2 million from European Innovation Co...

EIT Climate-KIC supported Lixea (formerly Chrysalix Technologies) has received...

Circular bioeconomy start-up receives €2 million from European Innovation Council Fund
In The News
Embracing a new approach to climate change in Moldova

Moldova is one of Europe’s most modest contributors to...

Embracing a new approach to climate change in Moldova
In The News
Krakow: transforming the city towards climate neutrality

Poland’s former capital and one of its oldest cities,...

Krakow: transforming the city towards climate neutrality
In The News
Is Europe doing enough to tackle climate change?

On 23 April, EIT Climate-KIC CEO Kirsten Dunlop spoke...

Is Europe doing enough to tackle climate change?
In The News
EU Commission publishes sustainable finance taxonomy

The European Commission has published its EU-wide classification system for...

EU Commission publishes sustainable finance taxonomy
In The News
New European Bauhaus: what kind of future do you want to live in?

On 22 and 23 April, the first conference dedicated...

New European Bauhaus: what kind of future do you want to live in?
In The News
Estonian innovation to help stabilise grid as renewables increase

EIT Climate-KIC supported Estonian start-up Sympower has raised €5.2...

Estonian innovation to help stabilise grid as renewables increase
In The News
Five EIT Climate-KIC community members in Forbes 30 under 30 list

Twelve entrepreneurs from across the EIT community have been...

Five EIT Climate-KIC community members in Forbes 30 under 30 list
In The News
These eleven organisations are building a greener Europe

Google, in partnership with EIT Climate-KIC, launched the €10...

These eleven organisations are building a greener Europe
In The News
New equity crowdfunding programme unearths cleantech start-ups

Found by us, funded by you, a new start-up...

New equity crowdfunding programme unearths cleantech start-ups
In The News
From start-up to 100-person industry player in 18 months: air up is launching ...

It’s a beverage revolution: Healthy hydration while fooling your...

From start-up to 100-person industry player in 18 months: air up is launching in new markets
In The News
#TurnItAround: an event for all climate solutions seekers, suppliers and enabl...

As part of the fifth SDG Global festival of...

#TurnItAround: an event for all climate solutions seekers, suppliers and enablers