Investing in renewable energies, stopping fossil fuels in their tracks in a short time, profoundly modifying consumption patterns or specific programs to reduce emissions are all possible actions with current technical and productive means. Scientists are urging the world to act now on the latest IPCC report, of which biologist Mercedes María da Cunha Bustamante was a part.
The biologist Mercedes María da Cunha Bustamante is specialized in the field of mitigation, that is to say in the study of the possibilities of reducing the impacts of the climate crisis. For this reason, it has been part of the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for years, of which the third part of the sixth assessment report has recently been published, which corresponds precisely to the group of work III on attenuation .
This work warns that it is in the hands of public policies and government plans presented by countries that the climate catastrophe that is already raging on the planet and which will continue to grow can be stopped.
What is the most urgent thing that this new report highlights compared to previous ones?
The central message is clear: unless there are immediate and deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors and regions, the 1.5°C target is out of reach. reached.
The theme of mitigating climate change and its costs is also dealt with forcefully. What is the cost-benefit ratio we have by investing in change?
There is growing evidence of climate action as specific policies and programs to reduce emissions. There are now options in all sectors that could cut these emissions in half by 2030. The next few years will be crucial. Opportunities exist to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to about half of 2019 levels by 2030, at a cost of less than $100 per CO2 equivalent (tCO2eq) and with options costing less than $20 tCO2- eq, which represents more than half of 2030 emissions. For the vast majority, the monetary benefits of mitigation outweigh its costs.
You come from Brazil, one of the countries with the largest forest mass on the planet. What do we owe to the indigenous communities who protect the best preserved areas?
It is essential that climate governance based on the Sustainable Development Goals includes all voices and, in particular, those of these groups so that they have their rights guaranteed and are supported to protect their territories. Indigenous peoples and traditional communities protect a large part of the world’s natural spaces and thus contribute to the fight against climate change. On the other hand, they are among the groups most vulnerable to this crisis.
She is an expert in large-scale environmental impacts and repeats over and over again that the key is to drastically reduce fossil fuels. How are we going to approach this conversion if industry and consumers continue with habits similar to those of a a decade ?
The report includes a specific chapter on the role of consumers, behavior and lifestyle in reducing emissions. The results indicate that they can play an important role if they act in concert with public policy and the private sector, so that consumers can make sustainable decisions. This latest book also highlights inequalities and the importance of promoting a just transition. What is clear is that we cannot mitigate climate change without working on production and consumption.
In your country, environmental policies are essential because of the great biodiversity and natural wealth that exists. How do political decisions affect these resolutions, which must be global? Are politicians and industry solely responsible?
The role of national policies, governance systems, technological development, investment and international cooperation are examined in depth in the report in several chapters. In the different sectors, there are relevant actors who are part of the solution to the climate crisis. Specifically, emissions from land use are important for Latin America and the Caribbean. This region also concentrates some of the so-called megadiverse countries. Integrating climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies with ecosystem and biodiversity conservation can generate multiple co-benefits for regions and attract new investments, which are so needed at this time.
The goals of the Paris Agreement seem distant and the limits for temperature increases are increasing, according to climate models and if we take into account the worst or best scenario. How should this be transferred to society, which report after report sees no real change?
The participation of organized civil society is highly relevant to advancing the process and political commitments. We can see this with the proliferation of climate disputes in several countries and the growing involvement of young people in these issues which condition their future so much. The press also plays a key role in publicizing the best available scientific evidence and warning of the slim window of opportunity we have left.