Behind the Scenes of the IPCC: A Deep Dive into the Earth Negotiations Bulletin

IPCC Mitigation Report — Part Four

Read “IPCC Mitigation Report 2022 — Part Three” here.

A few days after every IPCC report is released the good folks at the Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) publish a detailed account of what went on in the negotiations. Do they include absolutely everything? No. But dang do they spill some tea. You can read the whole thing yourself here, but here are the bits that jumped out at me most:

According to the Earth Negotiations Bulletin, Caribbean nations were pushing hard for the Summary for Policymakers to highlight the very real danger — particularly to island nations — of blowing past the target of keeping warming to 1.5 degrees or less. Photo of Barbados by bez_uk / Flickr.

Caribbean Nations to Everyone Else: We’re Literally Drowning Here, Are You Kidding Me with this Shit? According to the ENB, Caribbean nations were pushing hard for the Summary for Policymakers to highlight the very real danger — particularly to island nations — of blowing past the target of keeping warming to 1.5 degrees or less. “Saint Kitts and Nevis said at least one of the pathways to mitigation outlined in the SPM must capture the goals of the Paris Agreement, underscoring that exceeding 1.5°C comes with extreme risks,” the ENB notes. Seems pretty f***ing reasonable. “Antigua and Barbuda objected to scenario categorizations used in the SPM that are not in line with the Paris Agreement and suggested removing the 1.5°C label from high-overshoot pathways that substantially exceed 1.5°C for several decades,” the report continues. “Saint Lucia lamented that not even the most ambitious scenario category captures Paris Agreement Article 4, specifying net-zero GHG emissions in the second half of the century. Jamaica said the SPM must provide concrete quantitative statements on obstacles to mitigation, including financing for fossil fuels.” Yes please.

The approval process for the Summary for Policymakers really was as tense as it seemed. At the halfway point in the approval process, only 3 percent of the SPM had been approved (it took Working Group II the same amount of time to approve 22 percent of their report, by comparison).

Yes, Saudi Arabia was the one pushing for more mentions of carbon removal tech alongside emissions reductions and renewable energy tech. “In further deliberations on a sentence referring to the global spread of climate policies and cost declines of existing and emerging low emission technologies and of mitigation efforts and sustained reductions,” the ENB reads, “authors considered a suggestion by SAUDI ARABIA, opposed by FRANCE and GERMANY, to include reference to abatement technologies alongside low emission technologies, and sustained reductions ‘and removals.’ Ultimately the text was changed to refer to “varied types and levels of mitigation efforts.” There are more than half a dozen other examples in the report of Saudia Arabia pushing “abatement technologies,” so carbon dioxide removal, a technology that is not currently available at scale and may never be. (More on the very weird role CDR played in this report soon!)

Key message from the Ukrainian delegation: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “is a consequence in many senses of the use of fossil fuels. We do our work here in Ukraine for all humanity in the world.” The group’s spokesperson said this report makes it now impossible to refute that far more finance is still invested in fossil fuels than in climate change mitigation, saying it will arm everyone with evidence to convince others to stop buying oil, coal, and gas. (Good thing Biden got that LNG announcement out before this I guess?)

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