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The 2019 IPCC Special Report on Global warming of 1.5 Degrees.

Science has been addressing climate change for many decades.

The place to start is the work of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC). This is the UN body that assesses the science related to climate change. Through its assessments, the IPCC determines the state of knowledge on climate change. It identifies where there is agreement in the scientific community on topics related to climate change, and where further research is needed. The IPCC does not conduct its own research. IPCC reports are neutral, policy-relevant but not policy- prescriptive. Created in 1988, the IPCC has 195 member countries.

Although the Paris Agreement wording is “keeping the global temperature rise this century to well below 2 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels, and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees celsius”, growing concern about the damage inflicted by a 2 degree rise led to the IPCC publishing a Special Report on Global warming of 1.5 Degrees in 2019.

Physical risks from climate change arise from a number of factors and relate to specific weather events (such as heatwaves, floods, wildfires and storms) and longer-term shifts in the climate (such as changes in precipitation, extreme weather variability, sea level rise and rising mean temperatures).

Transition risks arise from the process of adjustment towards the low carbon economy, such as climate-related developments in policy/regulation, the emergence of disruptive technology and business models, shifting societal preferences and evolving evidence and legal interpretations.

Liability risks arise from parties who have suffered loss or damage from the crystallisation of physical or transition risks seeking to recover those losses from those they hold responsible.

IPCC reports are also one place to learn more about important climate change terminology from the Paris Agreement. ‘Mitigation’ is (human) intervention to reduce emissions or enhance the sinks of greenhouse gases, eg renewable energy or afforestation. ‘Adaptation’ is the process of adjustment (including human intervention) to actual or expected climate and its effects, eg flood defences. These activities, whatever their motivation, impact future climate change risks. ‘Loss and damage’ is the term given to the residual unavoidable harm caused by climate change, linked to liability risk.

Energy lies at the heart of many climate issues. The International Energy Agency (IEA) was created in 1974 to help co-ordinate a collective response to major disruptions in the supply of oil. While oil security remains a key aspect of its work, the IEA has evolved since its foundation. Founded in 2009, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is an intergovernmental organisation that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future. IRENA promotes the widespread adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy.

While this guide focuses on finance and risk, and does not seek to cover developments across the non-financial economy, Deep decarbonization examines green hydrogen in the context of net zero greenhouse gas emissions and the future of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme.

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