In Bob Sandford’s commentary in the April 13 edition of the Outlook, “Cancer and Climate – A Multitude of Parallels,” he mistakenly quotes the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated the following in its most recent report. “Building our mitigation strategies on models that instead lock in inequitable growth and conveniently assume away the risks of techno-fixes like carbon capture and carbon dioxide removal ignores the clarion message and increases the likelihood of overshoot.”
The IPCC made no such statement. In its most recent report, the IPCC stated limiting warming to a specified level requires “reaching net zero or net negative CO2 emissions,” and “carbon dioxide removal will be necessary to achieve net-negative CO2 emissions.”
To limit warming to 1.5 Celsius, for example, all four scenarios shown by the IPCC result in a relatively brief overshoot to 1.6-1.7 C. After factoring in removal of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere – hundreds of billions of tonnes over the course of this century – the ultimate warming is shown as 1.2-1.4 C.
The quote attributed to the IPCC is from Lili Fuhr of the Switzerland-based Center for International Environmental Law. Fuhr argues a combination of replacing fossil fuels with renewables, improving energy efficiency and reducing energy usage is the “surest path to limiting global warming to 1.5 C.”
It would be reckless to rely solely on those mitigation options, which face their own implementation challenges. UN secretary general António Guterres summed up the IPCC’s most recent report by saying: “Our world needs climate action on all fronts: everything, everywhere, all at once.”
Author of Scrubbing the Sky: Inside the Race to Cool the Planet,