~~Scope. This report covers the “physical science basis” of climate understanding - how the climate has changed and may change in the future. The following two parts will be released in 2022, covering impacts and adaptation and mitigation policy. Carbon Brief has published a comprehensive explanation of this report.
1.5C likely to be reached by 2040... At the heart of the report are five indicative scenarios for global greenhouse gas emissions up to 2100, reflecting five possible “Shared Socio-economic Pathways” (SSPs). With the world having already warmed by 1.2C since pre-industrial times, the report says that in all scenarios, from very low emissions to very high, the average global temperature is “more likely than not” to reach 1.5C, the limit aimed for by the Paris Climate Agreement, by 2040.
~~...but could be limited to that if drastic action is taken now.However, the report notes that if “immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions” in emissions occur this decade, the temperature rise could yet be held to around 1.5C for the rest of the century. This will not prevent continued extreme weather events, which are now inevitable with rising frequency, but the worst projected impacts could be avoided. Climate scientists have been at pains to point out that 1.5C is not a threshold: every 0.1 degree of heating increases the risks of catastrophic impacts.
~~Economic transformation is required. A synthesis report on the simultaneous crises of climate change, pollution and biodiversity by the UN Environment Programme earlier this year argued that “only a fundamental, system-wide transformation across technological, economic and social factors, including paradigms, goals and values can reverse the current trends that threaten the well-being of present and future generations and the survival of other species.”
~~System change needed. Economist Jeffrey Sachs delivered an excoriating speech to a UN Food Systems meeting, calling for “an order of magnitude change of development finance”, global redistribution of wealth from the world's billionaires and economic systems change to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Environment, climate change and inequality
Job creation in the circular economy. Green Alliance produced a report explaining how the Government can create over 450,000 jobs in the circular economy by 2035 by implementing a target to halve UK resource use by 2050, incentivise repairing by implementing a zero-rate VAT on repair and funding training and reskilling to shift skilled traders towards jobs in remanufacture and repair. (Twitter thread explainer here and Sky News video summary here)
~~Participation is key. The IPPR Commission on Environmental Justice’s final report found that public support for net zero will only be maintained if the transition is designed in collaboration with the communities most affected. Watch their video explaining how to design policy with the input of local communities here.
~~Rentier economy vs the real economy. By giving businesses a 130% tax relief on any capital investment, the government claimed the Super-Deduction would stimulate an investment-led recovery, but IPPR’s George Dibb explains why making landlords eligible will simply “prop up the UK’s rentier economy”.
~~A proportional property tax? Fairer Share, a campaign group pushing for property tax reform, explains the cross-party support for a Proportional Property Tax (PPT); a simple flat rate of 0.48% on the current value of properties, which is paid for by landlords and not tenants, with exemptions scrapped on second homes, and more. (See their video explainer on PPT here)
~~Why is it getting more regressive? Thomas Saunders, i’s data journalist, explained why council tax has become more regressive since it was first introduced: house prices in the South have risen more than elsewhere, and the poorest councils have been the hardest hit by austerity and so have had to make up the shortfall with tax rises.
‘Investment Big Bang’. The Prime Minister and Chancellor wrote an open letter to UK-based institutional investors (such as pension funds) calling for an ‘Investment Big Bang’ to shift capital towards UK green industries, infrastructure and other long term assets.