IPCC climate report: “The road trip has already taken place, the challenge now is to reduce the number of barrels”, press an author of the report
“The exit from the road has already taken place, the challenge now is to reduce the number of barrels”, said Monday, February 28 on franceinfo François Gemenne, researcher and co-author of the IPCC report published the same day. The IPCC recommends accelerating efforts on the “policy of adaptation” to global warming, the effects of which are already visible throughout the world. “Sometimes we have the impression that we are looking for excuses to look elsewhere”denounces the researcher, who calls for the establishment “protection infrastructures, in particular against floods or the risk of submersion.”
franceinfo: In this report, the picture is dramatic, even pessimistic about the future. What is the urgency? What should be done quickly?
Francois Gemenne: The urgency today, including for France and for Europe, is to develop mechanisms for adapting to the impacts of climate change. We have long believed, at least in Europe, that the impacts of climate change would first occur elsewhere, that it would be others who would be affected or that our task in the face of climate change was only to reduce our emissions. However, we see that the impacts of climate change are already underway, will not spare us and therefore there is an urgent need to put the turbo on the adaptation processes. First of all, this involves plans for the redevelopment of the territory, in particular in the face of rising sea levels or in the face of changes in agriculture. It also involves protective infrastructure, particularly against floods or the risk of submersion. I am thinking here of coastal areas in particular. This also implies preventive measures for populations in the face of extreme events of climate change. Finally, this involves civil protection services, early warning measures and the evacuation of populations in the event of a crisis.
These are difficult subjects to discuss, even more so at the moment with the war in Ukraine. Do you feel like we don’t talk about it enough?
Very clearly, we don’t talk about it enough and indeed, it is a subject that is overshadowed by other somewhat useless controversies, such as identity issues, questions of culture wars. Sometimes it feels like we’re looking for excuses to look elsewhere. For the rest, there is certainly a problem of coordination at the global level. If you are alone in taking action against climate change, your action is useless. I hope this report can shed some light on that. Especially since there is a very strong link with social inequalities. We show how the impacts of climate change have widened inequalities within a society, which, in turn, will also make this society more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
Doesn’t that mean, basically, that a cultural change is needed, not to say political?
In any case, we must very clearly rebalance the course of things. We must realize that the impacts of climate change will not only be for others, but for us too. We must also realize that the impacts of climate change are already taking place around the world. In several sectors, we are reaching the limits of adaptation and therefore, at the same time as we must both reduce our greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible, we must also adapt more, prepare ourselves more for the impacts of climate change. The challenge is not only to avoid going off the road, but also to reduce the number of rollovers because the going off the road has already taken place.