UN climate science report highlights how slow response to climate crisis risks catastrophic consequences

The UN’s climate science body released its latest report today which will help inform the public of actions taken to tackle the climate crisis for years to come. The IPCC report represents the strongest evidence assessment of climate change drivers, impacts, and mitigation and adaptation solutions in a decade.

The Synthesis Report, finalized March 13th through the 17th at the IPCC session in Interlaken, Switzerland, is the summary of all reports of the IPCC’s 6th Assessment Cycle that were published between 2018 and 2023.

The report’s evidence base shows how a global temperature rise of 1.1°C is already causing dangerous disruptions in nature and human wellbeing across the world. Many climate risks are worse than previously assessed and some are already irreversible, while the window of time to stop at 1.5ºC is soon to close.

Limiting warming to 1.5ºC is critical and will soon be out of reach without immediate and deep emission cuts. Any additional fraction of a degree of warming makes impacts even worse, as well as harder to adapt to (and in some cases impossible). 

1.5ºC is not dead. How can CEE governments keep it alive?

The science is clear. We need to act quickly so that the objective of stopping global warming at 1.5ºC can still be met. It is a matter of political will to do so, and not of technological or financial barriers, as has been proved over the last year by the responses to the energy crisis.

The key findings of the report make the current decade until 2030 absolutely decisive on whether warming can be limited to 1.5°C or below 2°C. The Synthesis Report confirms previous data that to keep within the 1.5°C limit (with limited or no overshoot), global greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced by at least 43% by 2030 compared to 2019 levels, and at least 60% by 2035. For the EU, we need a reduction of 65% by 2030.

Central and Eastern European governments, along with other EU Member States, currently have an opportunity window for aligning to the path of needed GHG emissions reduction by 2030. The National Climate and Energy Plans (NECPs), key and mandatory planning tools for countries for sectoral decarbonisation, are currently under revision. 

Revised NECPs should include a clear objective for complete fossil fuels phase out (2030 for coal, 2035 for fossil gas, 2040 for oil), measures for advancing deployment of non-hydropower and non-biomass renewable energy and storage capacity, measures for industrial decarbonisation, as well as adequate finance for sectoral decarbonisation and for nature-based climate adaptation measures. 

Ambitious NECPs will be instrumental for the measures taken over the next 7 years. At the same time, it is clear that solutions exist and they are within reach. As such, 2022 has seen positive development in the region, including a decarbonisation law in Romania scheduling the phase out of coal by 2032, a spike in installed solar PVs in Bulgaria with 400 MW installed in 2022 and generally, a spike in the number of prosumers across the region. However, sectoral decarbonisation strategies are still lacking in vision and direction, especially for the residential and transport sectors, while the most vulnerable consumers are in need of more transformative support measures to get through the energy transition process. 

CEE countries are also home to crucial biodiversity values that need to be protected. Nature is a strong ally in the fight against climate change. Natural systems have absorbed 54% of human-related carbon dioxide emissions over the past decade and have slowed global warming. The WWF works in the region for the conservation of crucial carbon sinks such as high natural value forests and river floodplains. 

 Six key findings from the IPCC AR6 Working Group reports:

  • Global emissions between 2010 and 2019 were higher than any previous decade in human history. Source: IPCC WG3 
  • Nature has absorbed 54% of human-related carbon dioxide emissions over the past 10 years. 31% is removed by terrestrial ecosystems, including by plants, animals and soils, and the other 23% is taken up by the ocean. Source: IPCC WG2
  • Approximately 3.3 to 3.6 billion people live in contexts that are highly vulnerable to climate change. Source: IPCC WG2 
  • The food system accounts for about a third (23-42%) of global greenhouse gas emissions. Source: IPCC WG3 
  • We have solutions in every sector to halve emissions by 2030 in line with a 1.5°C pathway. Source: IPCC WG3 
  • Between 2010 and 2019, the cost of solar energy and lithium-ion batteries (used for energy storage) decreased by a massive 85%, while wind energy costs dropped by 55%. Source: IPCC WG3


For more information:

Ana-Maria Seman, Climate and Infrastructure Regional Lead WWF-CEE, aseman@wwfcee.org

Thumbnail image source: IPPC AR6