Socialist Worker

Leaked climate report lays blame on the rich

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2768

Coal and gas-fired power stations must be closed within a decade, a new report warns

Coal and gas-fired power stations must be closed within a decade, a new report warns


The terrifying conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report last week dominated the media for a day.

Most politicians and ­newspapers have now ­seamlessly moved on.

But there is daily evidence of the need for action. The Extinction Rebellion ­protests on Monday come not a moment too soon.

Now a group of ­scientists have leaked their own ­forthcoming report because they think politicians will interfere to blunt their policy recommendations.

It says major changes will be needed to avoid climate breakdown.

Greenhouse gas emissions must peak in the next four years, and coal and gas-fired power plants must close in the next decade.

The report adds that rich people in every country are overwhelmingly more responsible for global heating than the poor. It also questions the high-carbon basis for future economic growth.

The leak is from the ­forthcoming third part of the landmark report by the IPCC.

Part three is not scheduled to be released before next March.

But a small group of scientists decided to leak the draft via the Spanish branch of Scientist Rebellion, an offshoot of the Extinction ­Rebellion movement. The leak reflected the concern of some of those involved in drawing up the document that their conclusions could be watered down before publication.

Be realistic—why we can stop fossil fuel investment
Be realistic—why we can stop fossil fuel investment
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Governments have the right to make changes to the “summary for policymakers”.

The draft says the top 10 percent of ­emitters ­globally, who are the ­wealthiest 10 percent, ­contribute between 36 and 45 percent of emissions.

This is ten times as much as the poorest 10 percent, who are responsible for only about three to 5 percent, the report finds.

“The consumption ­patterns of higher income consumers are associated with large carbon footprints.

“Top emitters dominate emissions in key sectors, for example the top 1 percent account for 50 percent of emissions from aviation,” the summary says.

It adds that providing modern energy to all those who currently lack it—800 million people have no access to electricity—would have a “negligible” effect on increasing emissions.

Stranded assets will be a growing problem, the report finds.

Coal-fired and gas power plants with working lives usually measured in ­decades will have to be ­decommissioned within nine to 12 years of construction.

The scientists echo recent advice from the International Energy Agency.

This says that no new fossil fuel development can take place if the world is to stay within 1.5C of heating.

CTXT, the Spanish ­publication that leaked the draft, said it showed the global economy must be shifted rapidly away from a reliance on conventional ­economic growth.

“The essential ­radical change in an economic system whose perverse operation of accumulation and reproduction of capital in perpetuity has brought us to the current critical point is not clearly mentioned,” CTXT wrote.


Cancel debts to Global South to help fund action

Politicians in the Global South are demanding the cancellation of debts owed to banks, governments and financial institutions to release funds for climate action.

Sheikh Hasina, the prime minister of Bangladesh, is calling for developing countries to stop paying debts in order to fund essential adaptation.

Hasina said, “It is unjust of the world to expect climate-vulnerable countries to pay such a heavy price for the emissions of others.

“Financing flows provided by the carbon debtor nations—those with the tremendous historical responsibility for causing this problem—are well below levels agreed in Copenhagen in 2009 and all subsequent COPs.

“The high emitters have not kept their side of the bargain, therefore, climate-vulnerable countries must change their position too.”

Maldives former President Nasheed urged a debt strike by vulnerable developing countries in response to last week’s IPCC report.

He said, “This report is devastating news for the most climate‑vulnerable countries because it confirms we are on the edge of extinction.”

Climate change intensifies the argument to cancel the debts which ought to be lifted anyway.

But some of those making the argument preside over countries where climate action is wholly lacking.

Hasina, who has been prime minister for a combined total of over 17 years, has consistently defended bosses who impose unsafe conditions on their workers.


‘First place is worst place’

July was the world’s hottest month ever recorded, a US federal scientific and regulatory agency has reported.

The data shows that the combined land and ocean surface temperature was 0.93C above the 20th Century average of 15.8C.

It is the highest temperature since record-keeping began 142 years ago.

The previous record, set in July 2016, was equalled in 2019 and 2020.

In a statement, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said that July’s “unenviable distinction” was a cause for concern.

“In this case, first place is the worst place to be,” NOAA administrator Rick Spinrad said.

“This new record adds to the disturbing and disruptive path that climate change has set for the globe.”

In the Northern Hemisphere, the ­land‑surface temperature reached an “unprecedented” 1.54C higher than average, surpassing a previous record set in 2012.


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