IPCC submits report: “We still have it in our own hands”


Status: 03/20/2023 5:18 p.m

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has presented its final report and has tightened its warnings. The international community must act now to limit the damage caused by climate change. Co-author Garschagen explains why.

tagesschau.de: You now have several days with colleagues from all over the world Synthesis Report of the IPCC filed – how is your mood?

Matthias Garschagen: I am glad that we brought the report to a successful conclusion. I’m very tired, but otherwise the mood is good because I hope that the world will listen to what we have to say about science.

To person

Matthias Garschagen is a professor at the Chair of Anthropogeography with a focus on human-environment relationships at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich (LMU). He is a member of the core authors’ team of the Synthesis Report of the IPCC’s 6th Assessment Report.

tagesschau.de: What are the key findings of the report?

Garschagen: The main findings can be summarized in three points. On the one hand, we have dealt with how things are with climate change and what the risks and impacts are: We have reached about 1.1 degrees of warming on a global average. And we are seeing clear effects, clear damage that is unfortunately more severe than we might have thought eight and a half years ago when the last synthesis report was completed.

These damages and impacts can increasingly be attributed to climate change. At the same time, we see that future risks will increase sharply with every bit of warming. That ecosystems, that societies react even more sensitively to climate change than we previously thought. That means the risks, even at two degrees, at 1.5 degrees, are higher than we thought.

Second, how is the world reacting to this? What happens in climate protection? So we see that a lot has happened. In many countries we have formulated climate targets, we have formulated adaptation strategies and plans. But we see that the measures are not sufficient to achieve these goals. There is a clear gap – and the gap is getting bigger.

But thirdly – and this is perhaps good news – we know how we can implement measures in such a way that we can still turn things around. Above all, how we can design measures in such a way that they allow us to promote climate protection and climate change adaptation at the same time.

Think, for example, of moors, of wetlands that simultaneously provide carbon sinks and flood plains – perhaps also local recreation areas.

Matthias Garschagen, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, on the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

tagesschau24 3:00 p.m., 20.3.2023

“The urgency is much stronger”

tagesschau.de: How urgently must something happen now?

Garschagen: It is very urgent. We are currently on the way with what is on the table – in terms of climate goals, also in terms of politics – that we will break these 1.5 degrees, that we will not make it.

At the same time, we know from the risk analysis that we will have many, many damages if we go beyond that. Incidentally, even if we only temporarily overshoot it. Think, for example, of the melting of glaciers, the death of coral reefs, or how extremes in developing countries in particular will lead to increased damage and famine. It is therefore urgent to turn things around.

Incidentally, it is also urgent to speed up the process of adapting to climate change. We often think that climate change adaptation is something where we still have a lot of time. For example, how do we design flood protection differently, how do we get the heat out of the cities. But that too has lead times, as the report says very clearly. We sometimes need ten to 20 years until we have set up planning procedures, negotiation processes, political processes and legal changes.

So we’re running out of time there too. And unfortunately we haven’t used the years since the last report as consistently as we should have. The urgency is much greater than eight and a half years ago, unfortunately one has to say that.

“Profound changes are needed”

tagesschau.de: Nevertheless, you are in a positive mood. Why?

Garschagen: We still have it in our own hands. However, far-reaching immediate changes are required. But the main question is: How far will we exceed this goal? And so it is important to keep this crossing as small as possible – in terms of the temporal extent, but also in terms of the number of degrees that we exceed.

Seen in this way: Yes, one is in a positive mood. I believe science is being listened to. I believe that the situation would be different, also in climate policy, if these reports did not exist. But action is not being taken quickly enough and deep enough to be on the path to achieving a goal.

“It gets harder and harder as time goes by”

tagesschau.de: At the same time, however, there are also new projects to promote fossil fuels, for example. Do politicians really listen to you?

Garschagen: Yes, I think politics is listening. A lot has happened. We have formulated climate targets that are much tighter than eight and a half years ago, we have that Paris climate agreement and so forth. But politicians are slow to implement bold, swiftly far-reaching measures that really allow us to achieve the goals.

There’s too much hope that we’ll make it over the last mile at some point. This becomes more and more difficult as time goes by.

tagesschau.de: What has to happen in society?

Garschagen: This is a very important field. The report shows very clearly that the climate crisis is of course fundamentally related to our current consumer behavior. The way in which we use this planet, sometimes misusing it, if I may say so, is the fundamental driver of the crisis.

I think one dimension that often gets too little attention in the debate is the question: What actually happens between big politics on a global and national level and one’s own consumer behavior? You can do a lot there too. In your environment, in the kindergarten, at school, in your company, in your organization, you can campaign for other forms of energy to be used in canteens and canteens.

Adaptation to climate change is also an important issue. We will have problems if municipalities in Germany continue to maintain their flood protection standards as we have known in the past. Our own precautions, for example making a house flood-proof at an early stage, thinking about elementary insurance: we have that in our own hands.

Global Compensation Payments

tagesschau.de: Poorer countries are hardest hit. How can rich countries help?

Garschagen: The report talks about injustices and inequalities on two levels. On the one hand, more recent data shows that once again the countries most vulnerable to climate change have the worst health care. They are the ones who historically have contributed the least to it.

Global equalization payments that have been approved on paper are needed. For example, the goal is to use 100 billion per year. Here, too, we are not quick enough to actually make these funds available.

But the report also shows the inequalities within societies. To what extent do the richest 10 percent contribute disproportionately to this problem in many societies?

And the third question is: How do we deal with future generations? If you look at the risks we are facing, for example in a world of two and a half or three degrees, then it is brutal what we are burdening future generations with.

The conversation was led by Inga Wonnemann, tagesschau editors. It has been edited and abridged for the written version.

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