Earth Information Day at COP 26
COP 26 — Wednesday's sessions at COP focused on highlighting the 2021 IPCC Report, along with mitigation and adaptation funding. Information is also provided on the United States' Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).
Mike DeBusschere, P.E. Reporting
A&WMA Observer Delegate to the UNCCC Conference of the Parties 26, Glasgow, Scotland
Earth Information Day, November 3, 2021
The sessions on November 3 were almost exclusively devoted to highlighting the 6th Annual IPCC Report on climate change and issues surrounding the funding and implementation of the $100 billion/year mitigation fund to assist developing countries in developing their NDCs and to mitigate the effects of climate change on their populations.
The information presented below concentrates on segments from the 1800-page 2021 IPCC report, which can be accessed in its entirety at www.ipcc.ch/assessment-report/ar6. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations' body for conducting periodic scientific assessment of the world's change in climate. Over the years it has improved its analyses to the status of being able to determine human caused effects and world history of global temperatures going back a couple of million years. The IPCC also estimates impacts and risks from climate change projections, tabulates annual GHG emission inventories and develops options for adaptation and mitigation.
Wednesday's session was opened by the Subsidiary Body of Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), function sanctioned by Article 9 of the Paris Agreement. Several speakers presented segments of the IPCC 6th Annual Report. Some of their statements describing the report's findings included:
“Current warming is unprecedented over the past thousands of years.”
“Human-caused radiative forcing is increasing.”
“The level of CO2 in the atmosphere is now unprecedented in the last 2 million years.”
“The last time there was an increase in temperature of 2.5C was 3 million years ago.”
Here are a few of the graphics from the IPCC 6th Annual Report (click to enlarge):
This graphic presents projected global surface temperature average increases for various GHG reduction scenarios through the year 2100.
This graph depicts historical surface temperatures and projects to the year 2025. Statistics presented to the left of the graph indicate where we are now in 2021.
This graph presents the unfortunate glacial pattern since 1950.
In addition to the IPCC 6th Annual Report, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) presented its Provisional State of Climate Report for 2021. There were several speakers, including from the China National Climate Center, the IOC Secretary, the World Geospatial Industry Council (satellites) and others. Presentations by the World Ocean Assessment Program were also made. Some of the quotes were:
“The last 7 years are the warmest on record.”
“Negative mass balance of reference glaciers for the last consecutive 33 years has occurred.”
“Oceans hold 100 times the heat of the atmosphere and 50 times the carbon.”
“Oceans used to absorb 40% of fossil fuel carbon emissions.”
The China National Climate Center is focusing on something called Climate Impact Drivers (CIDs). A detailed map of Australian Aboriginal National Adaptation Plans was presented.
Mitigation and Adaptation Funding Sessions, November 3, 2021
Sessions focused on funding, how to allocate funds and the need for this important part of the Paris Agreement (Article 6) to get going. Many developing countries and especially island nations are concerned time is passing by without much being resolved to help them with the apparent rising sea levels that will destroy their economies and populations.
Discussion of the need for standardized National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) produced ideas such as the following from the presenters: Spending $100 billion per year is apparently a daunting task; based on a presentation at COP24, these monies may be used for any purpose by develping countries including development of their NAPs.
United States Nationally Determined Contribution
Here is a summary of the United States' Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) to meet the Paris Agreement target of 1.5C and/or 2C temperature increase goal. The entire US NDC and that of the other signatories to the Agreement can be found at www.unfccc.int.
The overall contribution offered by the US is a 50-52% CO2e reduction by 2030 from emission levels as of 2005. The US has already achieved a 17% reduction from 2005. An interim goal of a 26-28% reduction by 2025 was also specified. The US committed to net-zero CO2e emissions by 2050.
The US NDC is detailed by economic sectors as follows:
- Power plants retrofitted with carbon capture
- Power plants retrofitted with nuclear power
- Support research, development, demonstration, commercialization, and deployment of a carbon pollution-free, resilient, reliable, and affordable electricity system
- Light duty vehicle tailpipe emissions and efficiency standards
- Incentives for zero emission personal vehicles
- Funding for charging infrastructure to support multi-unit dwellings, public charging, and long-distance travel
- Research, development, demonstration, and deployment efforts to support advances in very low carbon new-generation renewable fuels for applications like aviation
- Promote use of rapid transit, rail, biking, and pedestrian improvements
- Explore ways to support decarbonization of international maritime and aviation energy use
- Support energy efficiency and efficient electric heating and cooking via funding for retrofit programs
- Promote wider use of heat pumps and induction stoves
- Adoption of modern energy codes for new buildings
- Invest in new technologies to reduce emissions associated with construction
- Support research, development, demonstration, commercialization, and deployment of very low- and zero-carbon industrial processes and products
- Incentivize carbon capture as well as new sources of hydrogen produced from renewable energy, nuclear energy, or waste to power industrial facilities
- Use procurement power to support early markets for these very low and zero-carbon industrial goods
- Reduce emissions from forests and agriculture and enhance carbon sinks
- Support scaling of climate smart agricultural practices including cover crops
- Reforestation, rotational grazing, and nutrient management practices
- Invest in forest protection and forest management
- Engage in intensive efforts to reduce the scope and intensity of catastrophic wildfires
- Restore fire-damaged forest lands
- Support nature based coastal resilience projects
- Implement the American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons
- Address methane, update standards and invest in plugging leaks from wells, mines and across the natural gas distribution infrastructure
- Offer programs and incentives to improve agricultural productivity through practices and technologies that also reduce agricultural methane and N2O emissions
- Promote improved manure management and improved cropland nutrient management
The next few days will focus on finalizing plans for protecting oceans, continuing to refine NDCs and redefining meaning of carbon-neutral, zero carbon and how to monitor progress uniformly as we continue to the year 2030.
Mike DeBusschere, P.E. was President of A&WMA from June 2000 through December 2001. Before being elected President, he served as Section Council Chair and in several Board and leadership positions. He is a licensed chemical engineer and is President of Kentuckiana Engineering Company, an environmental consulting firm in Louisville, Kentucky since 1996. Before entering private practice, he was Acting Air Branch Chief of Region IV EPA, and led EHS regional programs at Camp Dresser & McKee, ERM and TRC. DeBusschere is an A&WMA Fellow.