9 October 2018

BSRIA weighs in on IPCC climate change report

BSRIA has commented on the report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has stressed the urgent need to keep global temperature increases under 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Colin Goodwin, technical director at BSRIA.

At a meeting in South Korea, after three years of research and a week of haggling between scientists and government officials, the IPCC report has stated that the world is now completely “off track”, heading instead towards a global temperature rise of 3 degrees Celsius.

According to the report, keeping the temperature increase below 1.5 degrees Celsius will require “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society”. This will be hugely expensive, but the window of opportunity has not yet closed.

Considerable changes to energy systems, land management and infrastructure will be required, and the report argues that limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius will bring many benefits even compared with limiting it to 2 degrees Celsius.

This new study states that going past an increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius is “dicing with the planet's liveability”. However, without urgent and extensive action, the 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature guard rail could be exceeded in just 12 years.

The report proposed five steps to limiting the world's temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius:

  • Global emissions of CO2 need to decline by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030.
  • Renewables are estimated to provide up to 85 percent of global electricity by 2050.
  • Coal is expected to reduce to close to zero.
  • Up to seven million sq km of land will be needed for energy crops (a bit less than the size of Australia).
  • Global net zero emissions by 2050.

Colin Goodwin, technical director at BSRIA, said: “It is clear that unprecedented changes are needed to curb this catastrophic rise in global warming.

“In recent years, the UK government expanded offshore wind power and had become the first developed country to set an end date for the use of coal. There are still clearly huge changes and challenges ahead in the expected energy transition away from fossil fuels and storage of renewable energy.

“As an industry, we collectively need to not only take action on climate change and stabilise the climate to avoid its worst impacts, but get on track to meet the UK’s climate change obligations. The UK's net carbon emissions should be reduced by 60 percent by 2030 – and to zero by 2050 or at least 80 percent of 1990 levels by 2050. But there has been mounting scepticism about the UK’s own commitment to standing behind these words, as a result of a series of political policy u-turns on climate change – most of them in the built environment.

“The Paris Agreement climate deal agreed by the world's leaders in 2015 put the world on a sustainable low-carbon path. Governments must turn global ambition into national reality and industry will want to see domestic policies that demonstrate commitment to this goal.

“'Future' technology in renewables and the move to reduce greenhouse gases and carbon usage in the built environment is crucial. BSRIA is committed to supporting the UK government in reducing carbon and, indeed, its position on this. Is now the time to call on government for legislation to go further? Or offer incentives for green and clean technologies?

“Global warming is a real problem. As an industry we have the skills, technology and the desire to make a difference.”

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