Our comment: The IPCC report highlights need for action

The recently published IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels makes stark reading.

It states that around 100% of the global warning since pre-industrial (1850-1900) levels is the result of human activity and that 20-40% of the global population live in regions that have already experienced warming of more than 1.5C in at least one season. The report projects that global average warming is likely to reach 1.5C between 2030 and 2052. A searchable map developed by Carbon Brief indicates that the Birmingham area has warmed by 1.1C since 1860 and will increase by 1.5-4.3C by 2100.

High and low extremes in rainfall are also expected to become more frequent, the report says. The largest increases in heavy rainfall events are expected in high-latitude regions including northern Europe.

To limit warming to 1.5C with “no or limited overshoot”, net global CO2 emissions need to fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach “net zero” by around 2050. CO2 emitted by human activities needs to be matched by the CO2 deliberately taken out of the atmosphere through negative emissions techniques, such as afforestation and bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS).

Cutting emissions to meet a 1.5C limit would require “rapid and far-reaching transitions in the way energy is used and the sources it comes from; the way land use and agricultural systems are organised; and the types and quantities of food and material that are consumed. There is a clear need for action, and quickly.

During the first ‘Green Great Britain’, Claire Perry (Energy and Clean Growth Minister) approached the Committee on Climate Change for advice on setting a date for achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions. However, the third, fourth and fifth carbon budgets were excluded from the requested analysis raising concerns that action over the next 12 years will be insufficient.

All LEPs have received funding to produce locally relevant energy strategies and implementation plans, and we have supported all West Midlands LEPs to engage with stakeholders on their development. The Midlands Energy Hub will provide each LEP with energy projects officers for two years, with the intention of delivering key energy related projects.

The emerging Local Industrial Strategies for our WMCA and LEPs will also provide opportunities to use an evidence-based approach to defining clean growth priorities across our region.

Our annual conference on the 03 December will include a keynote from Myles Allen, contributing author of the IPCC report, Michael Gallagher from the Midlands Energy Hub, and the West Midlands Combined Authority. It is an opportunity for us to help shape policy and commit to actions that will go some way in our efforts to address the huge challenges raised by the IPCC report.