Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Shortcomings of IPCC AR6 WGIII - Mitigation of Climate Change

In the video below, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres comments on the launch of the IPCC AR6 WGIII SPM Mitigation report. 

[ U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres ]

The report has severe shortcomings, including: 

The IPCC makes it look as if the temperature rise could be restricted to 1.5°C above pre-industrial and insists there was a carbon budget left, to be divided by using monetary analysis. 

This narrative results in a failure to highlight in the SPM some key drivers of change (such as heat pumps in buildings and air taxis in transport) and in inappropriately referring to such key drivers of change as 'options', while failing to mention the best policies to achieve the necessary changes, i.e. through local feebates.

The agenda behind this narrative becomes further evident in phrases such as “CCS could allow fossil fuels to be used longer, reducing stranded assets” and “oil and gas assets are projected to be more at risk of being stranded toward mid-century”. 

Instead of “assets” at “risk” of getting “stranded”, these are liabilities that burden the world with a rising cost of clean-up and compensation claims. The IPCC gives CCS further undeserved importance by mentioning it no less than 32 times in the SPM, while a key driver of change such as heat pumps is mentioned only once, and not under buildings but industrial policy. 

The image below, from the report's SPM, shows “options” by sector with the length of each bar indicating their potential for emissions reduction by 2030, while the color inside the bar gives a cost estimate. 

[ from IPCC AR6 WGIII SPM, click images to enlarge ]

These are not genuinely options, since the dire situation leaves little choice and instead makes it imperative to act most urgently, comprehensively and effectively on climate change, in line with the Paris Agreement. 

The Paris Agreement does instruct the IPCC to describe the best pathways to achieve this and the IPCC has until now refused to do so. As Arctic-news blog has pointed out for more than a decade, mitigation is most effectively achieved by offering people a range of options, preferably through local feebates, which will also make such policies more popular, as a 2019 analysis (above) concludes.

[ from earlier post ]

Options are more appropriately realized in the form of feebates that can offer a range of options, with the more polluting options attracting fees and with the revenues used to fund rebates on the cleaner options. 

An example of a wider set of local feebates is depicted in the above analysis of EV policy. A more diverse set of feebates could include not only fees on fuel and fuel-powered vehicles, but also on facilities that sell or process fuel, vehicle registration, parking, toll roads, etc. It's important to act comprehensively, along several lines of action, e.g. to redesign cities and plan for air taxis

Given the urgency to act, such lines of action are all best implemented as soon as possible, yet at the same time many lines of action are best kept separate, as illustrated by the above image. 

The image on the right illustrates the difference between using a Gobal Warming Potential (GWP) for methane of 171 over a few years, vs the IPCC's use of a GWP of 28 over 100 years. 

Fees on sales of livestock products can raise revenue for pyrolysis of biowaste, with the resulting biochar added to the soil.  That would also support the transition toward a vegan-organic diet more strongly, in line with the conclusion of an earlier IPCC report that a vegan diet ranks highest regarding mitigation (image right, from an earlier post). 

The Climate Plan prefers local feebates. Where needed, fees can be set high enough to effectively ban specific alternatives.

Furthermore, instead of using money, local councils could add extra fees to rates for land where soil carbon falls, while using all revenue for rebates on rates for land where soil carbon rises.

That way, biochar effectively becomes a tool to lower rates, while it will also help improve the soil's fertility, its ability to retain water and to support more vegetation. That way, real assets are built, as illustrated by the image on the right, from the 2014 post Biochar Builds Real Assets.

Catastrophic Methane Rise 

The IPCC narrative hinges on radical cuts in methane emissions from 2020, as illustrated by the image on the right. 

Instead, methane rose by 15.27 ppb in 2020 and by 16.99 ppb in 2021, the two highest growth levels since the NOAA record began in 1984. 

The combination image below shows the catastrophic rise of methane. The image in the left panel shows a trend based on January 2008-December 2021 monthly mean methane data. 

When extending this trend, current methane concentration would be 1920 ppb. Note that methane in December 2021 was 18.6 ppb higher than in December 2020, and it now is April 2022.

The situation is even worse than depicted in above image, as NOAA's data are for marine surface measurements. Methane tends to rise in the atmosphere and accumulate at higher altitudes. As illustrated by the image below, mean methane level is growing fastest at the higher altitude associated with 293 mb. 

Anyway, have another look at the combination image further above. The right panel shows that, if the trend continues, a concentration of 3840 ppb (i.e. double the current concentration) could be crossed in 2029, which would translate into a carbon dioxide equivalent (CO₂e) of 768 parts per million (ppm) at a one-year global warming potential (GWP) for methane of 200

The image on the right shows a trend that, if continued, will cross a carbon dioxide level of 450 ppm by 2029. 

Add this 450 ppm for CO₂ to 768 ppm CO₂e for methane and the joint CO₂e could be 1218 ppm in 2029, i.e. it would have crossed the point at which the clouds feedback starts to kick in (at 1200 ppm CO₂e). 

The clouds feedback could thus raise the global temperature by 8°C by 2029, but when also adding the temperature impact of greenhouse gases and further drivers, the clouds tipping point could be crossed much earlier, say by 2026, while a temperature rise of 10°C could happen even before the clouds tipping point gets reached. Drivers could include nitrous oxide (N₂O, see image right), seafloor methane, water vapor, loss of Arctic sea ice and the falling away of the aerosol masking effect, as discussed at the Extinction page.

The situation is dire and calls for comprehensive and effective action, as described in the Climate Plan.


• Secretary-General Warns of Climate Emergency, Calling Intergovernmental Panel’s Report ‘a File of Shame’, While Saying Leaders ‘Are Lying’, Fuelling Flames

• Mitigation of Climate Change Report 2022: "Litany of broken climate promises" - UN Chief

• IPCC Climate Change 2022 - Mitigation of Climate Change - Summary for Policymakers

• IPCC special report Climate Change and Land

• IPCC Report Climate Change and Land (review)
• Which policy can help EVs most?

• Confirm Methane's Importance

• Biochar Builds Real Assets

• The Importance of Methane

• NOAA - Globally averaged marine surface monthly mean methane data

• NOAA - Globally averaged marine surface annual mean methane data

• NOAA - MetOp satellite methane data - Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI)

• NOAA - Mauna Loa CO2 weekly mean and historical comparisons

• Clouds feedback

• Extinction