Leaders Respond to IPCC Synthesis Report’s Case for Moving Beyond Fossil Fuels

March 20, 2023

Today, the world’s most authoritative climate science body, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released its AR6 synthesis report as a summary of its recent years of research that underscore the urgent need for immediate action on climate change.

The IPCC Synthesis Report is the last of the AR6 products, which in recent years have provided policymakers with the most comprehensive assessment of scientific information and clear call for urgent action on climate change. This is likely to be the last time we hear from this body for at least four years. 

“The report offers hope and it provides a warning. It warns that the pace and scale of what has been done so far and current plans are insufficient to tackle climate change. … We are walking when we should be sprinting,” IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee said at the March 20 press conference to release the report. “But the report also emphasizes that effective and equitable climate action now can lead to a more sustainable, resilient, and just world, and more ambitious action will provide wider benefits for nature and people. … Action now along many dimensions could result in the transformational changes into the future we all wish for — a future not just for ourselves, but for generations to come.”

The synthesis report asserts that limiting warming to 1.5 degrees celsius demands “deep, rapid and sustained reductions,” and requires that greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors be cut by nearly half by 2030. It also demands “accelerated adaptation action,” highlighting that we already know the policies, practices and technologies needed to address the crisis, so the challenge now is for these tools to be scaled up and applied more widely.

“Climate action requires the best of humanity. The report underscores the value of trust, collaboration, and sharing of the benefits and burdens. It calls on all of us collectively and individually to do what is in our capacity to make a difference,” Lee said. “We need to recognize that we live in a diverse world in which everyone has different responsibilities and different opportunities to enact change. Some can do a lot while others will need help managing the change, and that change will be shaped by the choices we make starting right now. Let’s hope we make the right choices, because the ones we make now and in the next few years will reverberate around the world for hundreds, even thousands, of years.”

In no uncertain terms, this final report affirms what international environmental advocacy group has been demanding from corporations and governments for years through its campaigns — action to support a rapid phaseout of fossil fuels and scale up of renewables is needed to avert the climate crisis’ worst impacts on human life, biodiversity, and the economy.

In response to the report, Stand’s leaders issued the following statements:

Stand Executive Director Todd Paglia:

“The continued burning of fossil fuels is the single greatest threat facing our planet today. As fossil fuel companies continue to operate out of a colonizing worldview that leads them to drill, dig, and frack for oil, gas, and coal, they devastate ecosystems, poison waters and people, subject frontline communities to violence, and speed up climate change. Now is the time to end the production of new fossil fuels, enact clear transition plans, and accelerate the shift to clean energy. But in the coming years, governments plan to produce more than double the amount of fossil fuels that would keep global warming below 1.5°C — a tipping point for further climate catastrophe. We cannot be content with this sluggish rate of change. To guarantee a healthier, brighter future for the whole planet, we must make a full, rapid transition to renewable energy.”

Stand International Program Director and Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty Chair Tzeporah Berman:

“Millions of people are losing their homes and even their lives because of our continued expansion of oil, gas and coal. Our governments must stop pretending that we can ensure public safety and keep expanding fossil fuels. They must stop giving taxpayers dollars to big oil and gas companies who are making record profits. This IPCC report shows our house is on fire, so it is high time for governments to stand up to the oil and gas companies in order to stop throwing gas in the fire. This is why thousands of scientists have joined the call to governments for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation to complement the Paris Agreement.”

Stand Global Climate Campaigns Director Gary Cook:

“This report is unambiguous and clear. We have less than seven years to slash emissions 50% by rapidly scaling renewables and phasing out fossil fuels. Yet despite a growing number of corporations committing to net-zero goals and renewable power in response to the climate crisis, the vast majority are failing to meaningfully address their biggest sources of pollution in their supply chains and logistics networks, which remain heavily dependent on fossil fuels.”

Stand Amazon Campaign Co-Director Matt Krogh:

“The AR6 synthesis report clearly shows that allowing business as usual for fossil fuel infrastructure gives us no chance of meeting 1.5 degrees. Even as drivers reduce demand for petroleum fuels, California refineries are continuing to process at the same rate while exporting the new surplus. That means Californians in refinery and extraction communities, as well as Indigenous peoples in oil extraction areas in the Amazon that feed those refineries, are paying the price for uncontrolled refining levels in California. California needs to directly regulate the flow of oil through its refineries if we hope to meet the 1.5 degree climate challenge.

“Billions of dollars of investments continue to support oil and gas production in Amazonia, even while the AR6 Synthesis report shows finance must move out of fossil fuels and into renewables. Oil and gas finance threatens not only the Amazon, but also critically important biodiverse carbon sinks and Indigenous territories in places like the Arctic, Congo, and southeast Asia. While it’s true a few banks like BNP Paribas and HSBC have recognized the importance of excluding new oil and gas finance from parts of their portfolios, regional and global oil and gas exclusions must become the new norm for the financial sector worldwide.”

Stand Amazon Campaign Co-Director Alicia Guzmán León, Ph.D.:

“The Amazonia has already reached its tipping point. Transformation, defined as the combination of degradation and deforestation, spans more than a quarter of the entire region. Agriculture, mining, and oil are the main drivers of this loss. What happens in the Amazon does not stay in the Amazon. Deforestation in the Amazon Rainforest affects distant regions such as California, the Tibetan Plateau and the West Antarctic ice sheet. The IPCC reports need to be an active policy tool. Based on groundbreaking science, indigenous leaders, researchers, and activists are trying to protect at least 80% of the Amazonia by 2025. Our diplomatic efforts to build a pan-Amazonian commitment by national governments to protect 80% of the Amazon are not enough. The Global North needs to take responsibility and regulate the investments of their banks to oil, mining, logging, and agroindustry corporations while increasing the flow of resources that will allow Amazonian governments to phase out from extractivism.”

Stand SAFE Cities Campaign Director Logan McIntosh

“The latest IPCC report is clear: a liveable future means no new fossil fuels, and right now, bold cities are leading the way in moving us in this direction. From NYC electrifying new and existing buildings to Los Angeles ending new oil drilling to refinery communities in Washington State permanently prohibiting refinery expansion, cities are pushing the boundaries of what governments can do to protect the climate and our health.This latest IPCC report shows us that we need to rapidly accelerate cities taking action with the solutions that are already here.”

Stand Fashion & IT Campaign Director Seema Joshi:

“The IPCC needs to strongly signal that business as usual is not an option, including for fashion and IT industries which continue to rely on carbon intensive practices in their supply chains. Cutting carbon emissions and transitioning to renewable energy must be the priority. More leadership and less greenwash are needed by global brands. 100% renewable energy targets including for the supply chain as well as financial and other support to suppliers, are urgently required to stay within 1.5 degrees of global warming.”

Stand Climate Finance Campaign Director Richard Brooks:

“The AR6 synthesis report makes it clear: for any shot at curbing the worst of climate destruction, there can be no new fossil fuel projects. The world cannot afford more tar sands, fracked gas pipelines, or offshore drilling rigs. Science and justice demand a rapid scale down of fossil fuel financing and jump in funding for climate-safe solutions.”

Stand Canadian Oil and Gas Program Director Sven Biggs

“Canada continues to lag behind other G7 nations when it comes to reducing our emissions and the reason is clear — oil and gas is our largest and fastest growing source of climate pollution. Today’s IPCC report makes it clear that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must stop approving and subsidizing new fossil fuel projects now, and reinvest those funds into clean, safe, renewable energy.”


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