The IPCC, the panel of experts that advises the UN on issues of warming, is at the center of the negotiations of the Climate summit of Katowice. In 2015, when the Paris Agreement was closed, the 200 countries that are part of the UN convention on climate change commissioned a report to the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, by its abbreviations in English) on the possibility that the rise of the temperatures at the end of century remains only in 1,5 degrees with respect to the preindustrial levels (now we are in a degree of increase). And the report was presented in October in South Korea. There was Thelma Krug (Stoo Paulo, 1951), the vice president of the IPCC, negotiating with the representatives of the 200 countries that also have a voice in that advisory body the final summary of the report.
However, two months later, USA, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait block the assumption by the Katowice summit of this report. They are not willing to literally "welcome" a report that urges them to take drastic measures to meet the goal of 1.5. The summit must end on Friday. Assuming that IPCC report is one of the main stumbling blocks.
Question. What do you think that countries do not find a fit for the IPCC report?
Answer. The IPCC was invited by this climate change convention in 2015 to prepare the report and we delivered it in 2018 as requested. It was a very big challenge to deliver it in that small space of time, but we did our part from the scientific point of view. The most important thing is that all the countries, including those that have now expressed concern, approved the summary and accepted the report in October. That is the most important thing for the IPCC, because with that we can move forward and inform. All countries agreed, although it is important to say that after the acceptance of the report, three countries made statements expressing their concerns.
P. What three countries were?
R. The same.
P. USA, Saudi Arabia and …
R. Egypt. They made statements that are in the minutes of the October meeting. That's why it has not been a surprise now. But the most important thing for us was the acceptance of the report and this was done in October. Now it is a political decision.
P. Do not you think that the scientific evidence is denied from the political sphere?
R. I don `t believe. Because the same countries that are now here were in October there and expressed their acceptance of the report. Here it is more a matter of finding language. Countries look for a language in which they feel comfortable. And we are talking about 195 countries that have different visions. This does not imply that science is rejected or not accepted.
P. Is there discomfort among your IPCC colleagues?
R. We understand that from the scientific point of view we did our part. Now we do not care much what happens, the important thing is that during the summit we are having an incredible space to disseminate the results of the report. Pursuing the goal of 1.5 degrees is much more difficult, much more shocking. And you will need very significant transitions. Maybe a somewhat higher cost. But the benefits are so great. It will cost us much more, due to the extreme phenomena that are increasingly intense and frequent … We are talking about human lives. What is the cost? I think everyone here has assimilated it, but, of course, it will be a revolution. And this takes a little time maybe.
P. Do you think then that it is possible to keep the heating below 1.5 degrees?
R. It is a very big challenge and the change is unprecedented in history. In the report we pointed out that it is possible. That is, it is not impossible. It is the language we use. But very intense changes are needed. If you take the developing countries as an example, you see that they have many opportunities to grow in a very different way, very different. For developed countries the changes are more dramatic because of their energy system.
P. Does not pessimism assail you when you see that CO emissionstwo world will grow again in 2018?
R. It is a bit depressing, because we have known for a long time the need to reduce emissions intensely, but we understand that the need for greater ambition is already being internalized here. I believe, in particular, that countries are going to do it. I think the IPCC report also highlights the need for changes in lifestyles, of people, of each person's contribution. I believe that the change begins with us.
P. That is to say, that it is not a question only of the Governments that discuss here, in Katowice?
R. Not only. The change in the way of consuming is important. If we change ourselves, the industry will have to change as well. We are talking about such an important transformation that citizens, not just governments, have to think about how to change. The responsibility is also of the individuals, of the people. Changes and ambitions occur from top to bottom from bottom to top.
P. Are you an optimistic message?
R. I am. Because it would be very complicated to imagine a future if not, to think that my grandchildren and their generation do not have a chance to live on the planet because they will suffer some impacts of climate change that we are already seeing today. With floods, heat waves … Part of these phenomena are due to climate change. I think that the IPCC evaluation report of 2021 will give us more knowledge about the attribution of extreme phenomena to climate change. And that will be a difference. Because you can not say this has happened in the past, it's the same … It will be more difficult. Many of the problems we see today are already attributed to climate change.
P. Does the negationism stay with less and less space?
R. I do not understand how climate change can be denied. The scientific evidence is so strong. You see the IPCC reports and we show uncertainties. But they are very clear about the areas where the uncertainties are large and where they are small; and as science advances we are making the uncertainties less and less. If we do not act, in the future they will criticize us, they will blame us. And it will be much harder for future generations to reverse this. Why transfer to future generations, our children and grandchildren, a job that today is difficult but not impossible?