Green Great Britain Week opened with a breakfast hosted by The Climate Group where climate scientist Dr Emily Shuckburgh OBE of the British Antarctic Survey shared her personal views in response to the contents of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 1.5°C special report. The IPCC, a body set up with the mandate to provide a scientific basis to help inform governments when developing climate-related policy, remains influential for policymakers. Dr Shuckburgh highlighted 6 key takeaways from the report.

    1. Risk increases substantially from today for 1.5°C and beyond.
    2. Time is running out for 1.5°C
    3. Warming increases the risk of a catastrophic shock
    4. We need to get to net-zero by 2050 for 1.5°C
    5. The clean up for 1.5°C requires decarbonisation and removal of CO2
    6. Limiting warming could help deliver many SDG’s

    “The IPCC report shows that there is no time to waste to deliver deep cuts to Greenhouse Gas emissions if temperatures are to be kept below 1.5°C. Some impacts, such as the devastation of much of the world’s warm water corals, will happen even with 1.5°C of warming. In addition, sea levels will keep on rising even if temperature rise is halted. But many other impacts will be significantly reduced if rapid emissions cuts limit that warming to 1.5C.” said Dr Shuckburg, continuing, “We also need to do more to scale up capacity of carbon sinks to capture CO2, as all future scenarios in the report show some form of active removal of CO2 from the atmosphere at scale. Just to put it into context, even in the most aggressive power and industry decarbonisation scenario, we will ultimately need an area of land roughly 10 times the size of Spain to provide enough vegetative sink potential.”

    Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group then chaired a discussion about how business can contribute to solving the problem. “Engaging with stakeholders across business, government and the financial community is really important to accelerate climate action. That’s the core of what The Climate Group is working towards, but this report shows we need to push harder”, said Helen.

    HSBC Global Research also released Does 1.5°C matter? in response to the special report. One aim of the HSBC Centre of Sustainable Finance is to highlight and address issues relating to the pathway of economic low-carbon transition. Understanding the physical consequences of warmer temperatures is important for identifying how local economic activities might be impacted.

    Zoë Knight is Group Head of the HSBC Centre of Sustainable Finance.