CEO DailyCFO DailyBroadsheetData SheetTerm Sheet

‘Status quo’ interests have prevented urgent action on climate change, IPCC says

April 6, 2022, 11:54 AM UTC

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the third and final part of its 6th Assessment Report this week—concluding a mammoth analysis of where the world stands in tackling climate change.

While the previous two releases covered, first, the science of climate change and, second, the physical impacts of climate change on our environment, the third chapter tackles the topic of climate mitigation: that is, the efforts governments, corporations and individuals are taking to avoid catastrophe.

In its final assessment, the IPCC has good news and bad news—which the authors have kindly divided into two columns on page 12 of the report. Seriously, go look.

Here’s one good news-bad news example. According to the IPCC, “most wealthy countries” have committed to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 (good news). But, the report says, “many net zero targets are ambiguously defined, and the policies needed to achieve them are not yet in place,” (bad news.)

Among the things preventing governments from implementing effective policies, the IPCC says, is “opposition from status quo interests,” also known as corporate lobby groups.

“The interaction between politics, economics and power relationships is central to explaining why broad commitments do not always translate to urgent action,” the authors wrote in a technical summary appended to the report.

Delays caused by debate between reformers and status quo interests has already allowed pollution to continue so much that the Paris Agreement ideal of keeping global warming to a maximum of 1.5C by mid-century is now essentially out of reach.

Crossing the 1.5C threshold won’t cause immediate disaster and the IPCC says warming could be clawed back to that level by the end of the century, provided we still achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. But to do that, greenhouse gas emissions now have to peak by 2025.

Three years is an awfully tight deadline. Worse yet, we already knew about the deadline a year ago, after some of the scientists behind the report were so concerned “status quo” interests would dilute the final version that they leaked an early draft of the report.

“We are at a crossroads,” IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee said in a statement announcing the report, officially, this week. “The decisions we make now can secure a liveable future.”

Eamon Barrett
eamon.barrett@fortune.com
@eamonbarrett49

CARBON COPY

Hej!

Ingka Group, the Swedish company that owns the majority of IKEA stores, is diversifying into solar power. The homeware retailer has bought nine solar plants across Germany and Spain, splashing $373 million in a bid to produce more renewable energy than IKEA uses. The group already owns 547 wind turbines and one other solar farm—not to mention the 935,000 solar panels installed on the roofs of IKEA stores worldwide. Reuters

Dig it

In a report produced with Australian mining giant BHP, the U.K.’s largest fund manager, LGIM, warned the world will fall short of its net-zero ambitions if more funding isn’t poured into mining operations. “Investors need to engage with the mining industry, not shut them out,” LGIM said, stating that the transition to a green economy will require a “huge increase” in industrial metals. But investors, compelled to green their portfolios, are turned off by the mining industry’s huge carbon production. FT

Oil flow

Members of the International Energy Agency, including Canada, the U.S., the EU, Japan and South Korea, have agreed to release strategic oil reserves in order to cushion the blow of international sanctions on Russia. The IEA says it has 1.5 billion barrels of oil in reserve. Last week, U.S. President Biden ordered the release of 180 million barrels of reserves over six months—the biggest drawdown in U.S. history—as oil prices have nearly doubled in the past year. WSJ 

Hurry up

Reuters reports 34 investors responsible for managing over $7 trillion in assets have written to 17 of Europe’s largest companies to warn their climate accounting practices might lead to an investor revolt in the boardroom. Among the complaints, sent to companies including BP and Volkswagen, are allegations that corporate risk disclosures downplay the potential fallout from climate change. Reuters

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

A food crisis is coming. Here’s how we can help American farmers weather the storm by Mike Johanns and Heidi Heitkamp

4 ways business leaders should act on the SEC’s climate disclosure rule by Brian Stafford

Ukraine did a year’s worth of work in 2 weeks to get on Europe’s energy grid in record time, but major challenges are ahead by Tristan Bove

Why Putin wants Russia to be paid in rubles by Christiaan Hetzner

5 reports show how Europe can break its Russia gas habit without the lights going out in the process by Sophie Mellor

Why Walmart’s quest to be a regenerative farming pioneer is falling short by Rachel Hellman

Petromasculinity is the leading dealbreaker for dating app users, OKCupid says. Here’s what that means by Carmela Chirinos

CLOSING NUMBER

10 million

A confluence of catastrophe is pushing a quarter of Afghanistan’s population into famine. The economy was upended by the Taliban takeover last year, wheat prices have soared on the back of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, and all the while climate change has prolonged a severe drought in the country, leaving 10 million people on the brink of starvation. The drought has endured for two years and is Afghanistan’s worst in two decades. The Taliban says it is preparing a canal project to irrigate 2,239 square miles of land but—even if the government could afford it—the project could divert water from neighboring countries, dragging restive Afghanistan into more conflict.

Never miss a story: Follow your favorite topics and authors to get a personalized email with the journalism that matters most to you.