IPCC changes its tune on gas as way to mitigate climate change

von Dr. Peter Nagel

● By Prof. Janusz Bialek, Durham University ●

The International Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group 3 report is a welcome outline of how to stem the tide of climate change. It illustrates a significant change in strategy, from a complete switch away from fossil fuels to other mitigation measures.

Until recently IPCC strongly advocated switching away from fossil fuels as the main route to carbon neutrality. Any mention of other mitigation measures tended to be dismissed as defeatist and diverting attention from the real problem of switching away from fossil fuels.

But recent developments seem to have forced the IPCC to change its tack. The innovations and reforms laid out to reduce emissions include short-term measures such as switching from coal to gas, as well as the loftier goal of turning to renewable energy.

Global effort

Preventing global warming requires a concerted effort of the whole world – it therefore requires agreement of all the governments. This has proved to be impossible to achieve, despite numerous world summits. Perhaps this kind of global cooperation was rather naïve to hope for. The lack of consensus, however, has meant that global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. This makes keeping temperatures to a 2°C increase more and more difficult.

The world financial crisis of 2008 and the recession it caused has highlighted the cost of switching away from fossil fuels. The expense of a switch would jeopardise global economic recovery and increase “fuel poverty”, or indeed lack of access to electricity, by making electricity more expensive.

It is noted that “about 1.3 billion people worldwide do not have access to electricity and about 3 billion are dependent on traditional solid fuels for cooking and heating with severe adverse effects on health, ecosystems and development” ...

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