Valérie Masson-Delmotte, paleoclimatologist at the French Laboratory for Climate and Environmental Sciences (LSCE), is co-chair of the IPCC’s (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) Working Group on Climate Physical Basis. Following the publication of a special report on the impacts of a global warming of 1.5°C, she was auditioned in the Senate. A video of her testimony and the questions and answers that followed is available on the Senate website.
In a 13-minute presentation, she summarizes in very accessible and educational terms the construction and conclusions of this report. It was prepared following a request from COP 21, arising from countries most vulnerable to global warming. This report has an unprecedented interdisciplinary dimension in the drafting of each of its chapters. It includes two very innovative chapters on action options and the benefits of acting now towards sustainable development goals.
© Sean Wu / IISD6ENB
The four key messages of the report are the following :
- Climate change is already affecting people, ecosystems and livelihoods everywhere
- There are undeniable advantages in limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C or more, and every half degree counts
- Limiting global warming to 1.5°C is not impossible but would require unprecedented transitions in all aspects of society and political will is crucial
- Limiting global warming to 1.5°C can go hand in hand with achieving global sustainable development goals for improving the quality of life for all
Valérie Masson-Delmotte concludes her intervention with this message:
Every half degree counts, with respect to climate risks. Each year counts, with respect to the consequences in order to control climate change. Every decision counts. Not to act today is to increase the burden on younger generations who will have to deal with the consequences of global warming and the deployment of more difficult and riskier actions. Limiting global warming to 1.5°C is not impossible, but the political will to accelerate transitions is essential.
This intervention is followed by an in-depth discussion, which notably evokes alarmism, and the need for courage, the production of knowledge on the local impacts of global warming, the local to global action options, the links relating climate – health – sustainable development – eradication of extreme poverty – demography. Energy trajectories. The individual and collective responsible choices. The functioning of the IPCC and its role vis-à-vis the political community and the actors of change. Vulnerable countries and regions. The role of education and the mobilization of youth.