This week marked the publication of the final installment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), an eight-year-long endeavor by the highest authority on climate change science. Across its nearly 10,000 pages, the AR6 depicts the annihilating impacts of surging greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions globally – both already observable and likely to arise – as it concludes that global warming is now more likely than not to reach 1.5°C in the near to medium term. Like a beacon of hope, however, AR6 does emphasize the courses of action to take to avert the growing risks we are expected to face – despite an increasingly narrow window of opportunity.
Time for choices and a sense of responsibility
With growing economic activities and GHG emissions, the global surface temperature in 2020 was nearly 1.1°C above the pre-industrial level in 1900, thereby inducing unprecedented changes in recent human history to the earth’s climate: current concentrations of carbon dioxide are unmatched for at least the past 2 million years and oceans are warming faster than at any time since the end of the last ice age. Amidst these snowballing impacts, the AR6 Synthesis Report (SYR) reaffirms the inconvenient truth that communities that have historically contributed the least to current climate change are disproportionately affected, mainly Least Developed Countries, Small Island States, and the Arctic. About half of the world’s population lives in geographic zones which are highly vulnerable to climate change, as higher temperatures are already fostering the proliferation of food-borne, water-borne and vector-borne diseases. Between 2010 and 2020, human mortality from floods, droughts, and storms were fifteen times higher in highly vulnerable regions. Importantly, every additional 0.5°C of global temperature rise causes discernible increases in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events, further weakening the resiliency of the most vulnerable. Specific climate impacts are already so incredibly severe that they simply cannot be adapted to, leading to losses and damages.
Greenhouse gas emissions must begin to decline now
In order to limit global warming to 1.5°C with no or limited overshoot, the IPCC projects that GHG emissions need to peak immediately and before 2025 at the latest, and that reaching net zero CO2 emissions will need to happen in the early 2050s. In light of this forecast, a new interim target for 2035 (i.e., a 60% decrease in emissions) has been established, which we hope will shape COP28 Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The global surface temperature rises by 0.45°C for every 1000 GtCO2 emitted by human activity. Furthermore, the IPCC finds that in 2019, approximately 79% of global GHG emissions came from energy, industry, transport, and buildings together, implying that deep, system-wide shifts are needed urgently. This context is the underlying basis of La Francaise AM’s exclusion policies* and investment strategies toward the energy transition. Our funds no longer finance companies that are dedicating investments to coal expansion plans or ones that are still having electric capacity or production coming from coal for more than 10% or 20% depending on the fund’s strategy.