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
Why we invest in sustainable start-ups

A growing number of investors recognise the value in...

Why we invest in sustainable start-ups
In Detail
EIT Climate-KIC Position Paper: EU Long Term GHG Emissions Reduction Strateg...

As an active member of the community working to solve challenges presented by climate change, EIT Climate-KIC has published a position paper on the...

EIT Climate-KIC Position Paper: EU Long Term GHG Emissions Reduction Strategy
Opinion
Learning out loud
Kirsten Dunlop Chief Executive Officer, EIT Climate-KIC
Learning out loud
In The News
No more excuses: Financing 1.5C

First published in Environmental Finance as part of a series covering...

No more excuses: Financing 1.5C
Opinion
Investor framework launched for 1.5C-compatible investments
Dennis Pamlin Entrepreneur and Founder of 21st Century Frontiers
Investor framework launched for 1.5C-compatible investments
In The News
Teams announced for final stage of Reinventing Cities competition

The teams selected to go through to the final...

Teams announced for final stage of Reinventing Cities competition
In The News
New Climate Finance report: The invisible hand of the free market does not hav...

Amsterdam and London have topped the latest global rankings...

New Climate Finance report: The invisible hand of the free market does not have green fingers
In The News
Climathon 2018: Registration is open!

EIT Climate-KIC is thrilled to invite participants to register...

Climathon 2018: Registration is open!
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC’s new Greece Hub opens for business

Greek foreign affairs minister George Katrougalos welcomed EIT Climate-KIC’s...

EIT Climate-KIC’s new Greece Hub opens for business
In our community
Interview with Thomas O’Neill, Research Director, InfluenceMap
Interview with Thomas O’Neill, Research Director, InfluenceMap
In The News
SwissECS 2018: Climate Action Isn’t a Walk, It’s a Mountain Hike.

When you hear the words climate change, do you...

SwissECS 2018: Climate Action Isn’t a Walk, It’s a Mountain Hike.
In our community
Interview with Miguel Navalón, co-founder and CEO, Navlandis
Interview with Miguel Navalón, co-founder and CEO, Navlandis
In our community
Interview with Isabella Palmgren, founder and CEO, Mimbly
Interview with Isabella Palmgren, founder and CEO, Mimbly
In The News
A round-up of EIT Climate-KIC at the Global Climate Action Summit

EIT Climate-KIC was among the policymakers, business leaders, academics...

A round-up of EIT Climate-KIC at the Global Climate Action Summit
In The News
Europe’s top 30 cleantech start-ups have been selected

EIT Climate-KIC is proud to present Europe’s top 30...

Europe’s top 30 cleantech start-ups have been selected
In The News
Europe’s moment to lead on green financial centres

Pascal Donohue,  Minister for Finance and Stephen Nolan, Sustainable...

Europe’s moment to lead on green financial centres
Opinion
Rewiring finance through climate innovation
Kirsten Dunlop Chief Executive Officer, EIT Climate-KIC
Rewiring finance through climate innovation
In our community
Interview with Karim Tarraf, CEO, Hawa Dawa
Interview with Karim Tarraf, CEO, Hawa Dawa
In our community
Interview with Asger Hansen, CEO, Havsans IVS
Interview with Asger Hansen, CEO, Havsans IVS
Innovation Spotlight
Landscape Finance Lab: Key partnerships with major corporations to drive sus...

In Innovation Spotlight, we explore some of the most promising innovations from around our community. This week,...

Landscape Finance Lab: Key partnerships with major corporations to drive sustainable land use
In The News
Solar Impulse network joins forces with EIT Climate-KIC to accelerate innovati...

EIT Climate-KIC, Europe’s main climate innovation initiative has joined...

Solar Impulse network joins forces with EIT Climate-KIC to accelerate innovation
Opinion
Consumers play a decisive role in the shift towards a circular economy
Ulrike Linnig Innovation Lead, Germany, EIT Climate-KIC
Consumers play a decisive role in the shift towards a circular economy
In The News
Updated Investor Marketplace aims to scale green funding with networks effects

Before the recent launch of EIT Climate-KIC’s new Investor...

Updated Investor Marketplace aims to scale green funding with networks effects
In The News
World’s leading finance innovators to outline new mission for finance at Eur...

‘Mission Finance’ – the mission critical opportunities for collaboration...

World’s leading finance innovators to outline new mission for finance at Europe’s top climate innovation summit
Innovation Spotlight
CRAMS’ comprehensive climate datasets enable financial institutions to...

In Innovation Spotlight, we explore some of the most promising innovations from around our community. This week,...

CRAMS’ comprehensive climate datasets enable financial institutions to satisfy TCFD recommendations
In our community
Interview with Charlotte Thiery, Project Manager, InclusivEV
Interview with Charlotte Thiery, Project Manager, InclusivEV
In The News
UN sustainable finance centres network establishes base in Dublin, home of thi...

A United Nations programme, supported by EIT Climate-KIC, which...

UN sustainable finance centres network establishes base in Dublin, home of this year’s Climate Innovation Summit
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC-supported Climeworks raises €27 million to commercialise CO2...

Climeworks AG, the world leader in capturing CO2 from...

EIT Climate-KIC-supported Climeworks raises €27 million to commercialise CO2 removal technology
Opinion
Harvesting opportunities for health, wealth and climate stability in regenerative agriculture
Daniel Zimmer Daniel Zimmer, Director Sustainable Land Use, EIT Climate-KIC
Harvesting opportunities for health, wealth and climate stability in regenerative agriculture
In Detail
How can digitalisation unlock the circular economy’s potential?

With the global population rapidly increasing, it’s become essential to review our current system to adapt to the growing demand for basic goods and...

How can digitalisation unlock the circular economy’s potential?