DEBATE: New IPCC Report, Old News – it is Time for Something Different

- in Debatt

–  This article was first published in the printed version of Lundagård on August 28th, 2021. The views presented in the debate article are the writers’ own, for replies please see the instructions presented here – 

Lund University stands out amongst its international peers through the lack of action regarding climate change, something that must change, writes Extinction Rebellion Lund. 

Early August saw the publication of the latest official IPCC report, ripping through news channels just like the crisis it describes. Part of the sense of urgency the report generated comes from the way it was published: Leaked almost a year early for fear that it would be watered down by governments. The leak has ensured that headlines cover the severity of the climate crisis spiralling out of control, when telling this truth has long been a major challenge. Physicist Svante Arrhenius linked carbon dioxide’s impact on the climate to humans as early as 1906, but climate scientists have had to battle oil companies like Exxonmobil who have actively suppressed research since the 1970s. But at least since the 1992 “Rio Summit”, the need for urgent action to reduce emissions to ensure the survival of humanity has been clear. 

The importance of the IPCC report is not its new findings, and the problem at hand is not a lack of knowledge about the precise nature of the climate crisis. Rather, the report reminds us of the absolute lack of commitment by governments to any climate action. Global emissions increased by 60% compared to 1990 when we agreed to stop them. In Sweden alone, banks have been funding oil drilling with billions of SEK since the Paris Agreement. During COVID, Sweden put in place a dedicated loan guarantee scheme to bail out airlines worth 5 billion SEK. Sweden’s climate targets are blatantly insufficient to keep global warming within the limits of the Paris Agreement – and that despite the Social Democrats explicitly choosing to cover only a third of its emissions by the climate targets. Regardless of how up-to-date the calculations by the IPCC are, governments have found a way to selectively interpret them. 

To ensure the survival of the planet, we do not need more numbers. The problem is not a lack of clarity about the crisis – it is a lack of action of governments. Despite countless elections, petitions and demonstrations, we hear apologetic statements from politicians. Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg, for instance, insisted Norway continue to drill for oil and wait for decarbonisation to happen ‘naturally’. On August 21, thousands of activists gathered in Oslo to stand up against this euphemism for the deaths of millions, and used the only option that has been viable in the past and remains so today: Civil disobedience.

Across the world, scientists have raised their voices about the crisis and joined in civil disobedience. Lund University, however, is notable through its absence in the international non-violent struggle, and its world renowned environmental science program (LUMES) still speaks of “complex sustainability challenges of the 21st century” rather than naming the crisis what it is.

At the verge of extinction, we have everything to gain if we decide to act now. The only thing we can’t do is what we’ve already tried. After all, it remains valid that ”the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

Extinction Rebellion Lund