The IPCC Working Group II report. The latest instalment of the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was released on February 28, focused on climate impacts, risks and adaptation. A Summary for Policymakers was also published, along with the slides presented at the launch and some FAQs. The report’s conclusion is stark: ‘Any further delay in global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all’. UN Secretary-General António Guterres described the report as ‘an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership’.
Key findings. The report’s key findings (‘headline statements’) include:
Climate justice. Chapter 8 of the report deals with the societal consequences of climate change, assessing impacts through the lens of poverty, livelihoods and vulnerability. Vulnerability is defined by the report as ‘the propensity or predisposition to be adversely affected’, and encompasses a variety of concepts and elements, including ‘sensitivity or susceptibility to harm and lack of capacity to cope and adapt’ to climate-related hazards. As Politico noted in its coverage, there is a much stronger focus on climate justice in the report than in previous ones. It emphasises the unequal impact of climate change, with those on low incomes, both in the world as a whole, and in individual countries, being much more vulnerable than others. Environmentalist Ayisha Siddiqa noted that this is the first time that the IPCC has acknowledged ‘historical and ongoing patterns of inequity such as colonialism’ in the vulnerability of people in the global South.
Climate politics. The WGII report highlights the need both for stronger and faster action to reduce emissions and for greater resources and effort to be put into adaptation, particularly in the most vulnerable countries. Damian Carrington analysed the political implications of the report in the Guardian: ‘This climate crisis report asks: what is at stake? In short, everything.’
Reducing dependence on Russian gas and oil. The UK has announced a phasing out of Russian oil imports by the end of 2022, and will investigate doing the same for gas. European Union countries are also attempting to cut their imports from Russia without inflicting major damage on their economies and people. The US has banned Russian oil and gas imports with immediate effect.
More help for energy bills? The i’s Paul Waugh reported that the Treasury is considering new support for households as soaring global oil and gas prices add to the cost of living crisis. The Energy Bill Rebate scheme announced by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak last month is expected to be revised in his Spring Statement on March 23.
Food inflation and insecurity. The Russian attack on Ukraine has already had a major impact on global food prices, as higher oil prices affect food production costs. With the two countries supplying around a third of the world's wheat, its global price has already increased by 65%, to levels not seen for a decade. The IFPRI’s Joseph Glauber and David Laborde explain how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will affect global food security. Economist Noah Smith’s blog on ‘the Ukraine War and the price of bread’ provides further analysis.
Economic Crime Bill. As the Government’s Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill is rushed through Parliament, the House of Commons Library has published a research briefing on it. The FT also has explained what’s missing.
Sanctions against Russia. In the New Statesman, Adam Tooze comments that ‘the freezing of Russia’s central bank reserves has brought conflict to the heart of the international monetary system’. Duncan Weldon’s blog outlines the impact of the financial sanctions on the Russian economy so far.
The emergence of a two-tier health system. IPPR’s State of Health and Care 2022 has found a growing number of people have been resorting to private healthcare due to declining access and quality in the NHS. It argues that this risks normalising a two-tier health system for those who can afford it and declining access and quality for those who can’t. (Twitter thread and video summary.)
BBC impartiality review. The BBC has announced details of the first of its ‘impartiality reviews’ aimed at raising editorial standards. Sir Andrew Dilnot and Michael Blastland will lead the first review into the BBC’s coverage of fiscal policy, tax and public spending. Among other things it will assess whether coverage of the government’s fiscal announcements (such as Budgets and Spending Reviews) include ‘a breadth of voices and viewpoints’.
International Women's Day and a new economy. For International Womens’ Day, we thought we’d bring you a round up of some of the best new economic thinking on gender, from UBI to childcare: