Updated IPCC Working Group III Special Alert


The Working Group I (WGI) chapter of the 5th Assessment Report (AR5) by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – launched in Stockholm last September – found that human interference with the climate is occurring, and that climate change is unequivocal. The Working Group II (WGII) report launched in Yokohama, Japan, earlier this month, dealt with the risk of climate change to society, how to manage this risk, what level of risk is deemed acceptable and the set of values upon which such judgements are made.

After a week of negotiations in Berlin, Germany, Working Group III (WGIII) has today published its report on climate change mitigation options. The report makes it clear that we can still keep global warming below 2 degrees C compared to pre-industrial levels. Even keeping warming below 1.5 degrees C hasn’t been ruled out.

Achieving this and securing a safe climate future will not cost the earth, according to the IPCC. In business-as-usual scenarios, consumption grows by 1.6 to 3 per cent per year. Ambitious mitigation would reduce this growth by only around 0.06 percentage points a year, i.e. 2.94 per cent growth instead of 3 per cent growth. The economic assessments of the cost of mitigation in the new IPCC report don’t even include the co-benefits of taking action – such as better public health and increased energy efficiency – or the cost savings which result from avoiding future impacts.

The IPCC says that large scale changes in the global energy mix are required, combined with deep and fast emissions cuts. We have to almost quadruple our use of zero and low carbon energy by 2050, to have any chance of keeping warming below the 2 degrees C threshold.

The new report says that renewable energies must be a significant part of this change, are an increasingly attractive option, and have strong future prospects – particularly if governments put in place stronger enabling policies. The major expansion and price reduction associated with renewables such as solar PV and onshore wind makes them the energy sources of choice.

The report highlights that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions continue to rise, and have risen faster over the past ten years than during the previous thirty years. The energy sector, especially coal power, is the biggest culprit. To this end, the IPCC states that the stabilization of GHG concentrations at low levels will have to include the “long-term phase-out of unabated fossil fuel conversion technologies”.

The report points out that substantial shifts in annual investment flows between 2010 and 2029 are required, i.e. cuts in fossil fuel investments of $30 billion per year, while more than doubling the investment in renewables. Delaying mitigation action now implies higher costs of action later, says the IPCC, while the co-benefits of actions taken now can outweigh their costs.

The report also discusses controversial technology options including carbon removal technologies such as Bioenergy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCS), and nuclear. But it makes a clear case for renewables as the preferred option given the fact they are ready for use and significantly more cost efficient than other technologies.

The next two decades are full of opportunity for climate action, concludes the IPCC. Now policymakers need to take the report as an urgent reminder to ramp up their efforts and ensure faster and deeper cuts in emissions. Governments own this report, they have ordered it, so they are expected to take it seriously, and reflect the science in their policies.

For more information about the IPCC AR5 WG3 report and a detailed list of key findings from the report, please check out our Global Resource Pack.


Key Points

  • Climate change is real, caused by human activity, and requires urgent action. Sea levels are rising, precipitation patterns are changing, sea ice is declining and oceans are acidifying.This will have grave consequences for our communities, environments and economies and leave them open to risks for which we are not prepared.

  • We need to accelerate climate action starting today. We are already experiencing severe impacts on every continent and across the oceans, resulting in growing economic and social costs. We have to brace ourselves for more frequent or more intense droughts, floods and storms. Civilisation as we know it at risk – unless we cut carbon pollution rapidly.

  • We can keep global warming below the danger-threshold of 2 degrees C, even below 1.5 degrees of warming. But this is only possible if we make deeper and faster emissions cuts and all governments introduce ambitious policies, backed by strong investments, to enable clean and innovative energy solutions.

  • Tackling climate change will not cost the earth. In business-as-usual scenarios, consumption grows by 1.6 to 3 per cent per year. Ambitious mitigation would reduce this growth by only around 0.06 percentage points a year. This estimate does not take into account economic co-benefits of taking action and avoiding future damage, meaning that mitigation will cost virtually nothing, while bringing about a host of advantages.

  • The report confirms the need for a complete phase out of fossil fuels and CO2 emissions. It highlights the need to divest at least $30 billion dollars per year from fossil fuels over the coming decades, and for annual investment in low carbon electricity supply to grow $147 billion a year.

  • Renewable energy can power our society, drive the economy, and give us cleaner air. Moving from fossil fuel based energy supplies to renewables will result in a wide range of benefits – including new jobs and improved public health. The clean energy transition is inevitable, people are demanding it, and it is already underway. Governments need to put in place the enabling policies so these technologies can be scaled up faster.

  • The longer we delay action to foster the low carbon transition, the more expensive addressing climate change will get. At a UN summit in September,world leaders must commit to deeper cuts in emissions and faster shifts in energy finance from dirty fossil fuels to clean renewables. This will lay the groundwork for the strong global climate treaty that’s due in Paris in 2015.


From briefing documents, to recent coverage, infographics and videos, here are some key resources which could help you better understand the IPCC process and aid your messaging

General resources


General background

Economic background

Health background

Energy background

Images, memes and infographics

For more great photos as well as a host of other resources check out the Tree’s Resource Library.



Report launch: reactions

Need for climate action now


Human and food security


Debunking tools

Debunking myths requires positive communication, but most importantly: a compelling, memorable fact that replaces the myth. Fight sticky myths with even stickier facts. To debunk a myth you usually have to mention it, running the risk of reinforcing it. So before you do, you should give an explicit warning about it to put the audience on guard. Finally, explaining how the myth distorts the facts will help resolve contradictions and dispel the myth. Explained here, and in detail here.


We have pulled together some of the best rebuttals to help with your own messaging surrounding the report.

Misreading of the IPCC report

NIPCC climate denial story

General rebuttals

On economic impacts

On poverty alleviation

On the “benefits” of climate change

Key quotes

Call for climate action

  • “The high speed mitigation train needs to leave the station very soon and all of global society has to get on board.” – Rajenda Pachauri, IPCC chairman

  • “Science has spoken… In the IPCC we see scientists as mapmakers and policymakers as the navigators who have to decide which path to take.” – Youba Sokona, IPCC WGIII co-chair.

  • “Climate policies in line with the two degrees C goal need to aim for substantial emissions reductions. There is a clear message from science: to avoid dangerous interference with the climate system, we need to move away from business as usual. Many different pathways lead to the future within the boundaries set by the two degrees C goal. All of these require substantial investments. Avoiding further delays in mitigation and making use of a broad variety of technologies can limit the associated costs.” – Ottmar Edenhofer, WGIII co-chair

  • “This report will show that humanity has all the cards in its hands to change the pathway we now are on.” – Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, a vice chairman of the IPCC and a physicist at the Université catholique de Louvain in Belgium

  • “We cannot play a waiting game where we bet on future technological miracles to emerge and save the day.” – UN climate chief, Christiana Figueres

  • “This report makes very clear we face an issue of global willpower, not capacity.” – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry

  • “[Addressing climate change is about saving] the whole of humanity. My objective has been pressed on member states who have been focusing more on domestic issues. I have been urging them, ‘Please, leaders, look beyond national boundaries. The whole of planet earth and global earth, they are suffering and they will suffer tomorrow, if not today.’ When we regret it will be too late. That is my message to world leaders, who are very narrow-mindedly looking only on their national agenda.” – Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General

  • “The IPCC’s working group three report confirms it is not too late to act to prevent catastrophic climate change. We can keep average global temperature rise to the 2 degrees threshold agreed by the countries of the world. But effective action will only occur with strong international cooperation. Luckily, leaders like Angela Merkel have an opportunity to show they have received this message from the world’s peak body of climate scientists when they attend the UN Secretary General’s Climate Summit in New York in September. As a German, I expect Frau Merkel to lead the Heads of Governments to a breakthrough in international climate politics which delivers a robust climate action plan in Paris in 2015.” – Sabine Minninger, Senior Adviser, Climate and Energy Policy, Bread for the World.

  • “Science has spoken: climate action is no burden, it’s an opportunity. As renewable energies are growing bigger, better and cheaper every day, the age of dangerous and polluting coal, oil and gas is over. The only rational response to this report is to start the phase out of fossil fuels immediately. It’s simple: the more we wait, the more climate change costs us. The sooner we act, the cheaper the transition to a renewables future for all will be. China, more than anyone, has the potential to become a game-changer in global climate action. China’s coal consumption limits and massive investments in renewable energy not only provide hope for Chinese citizens to breath clean air again but could also end the relentless growth of global climate pollution. China must now lead the world to new climate treaty by presenting an ambitious new target with binding emission cuts. If they act, the US and EU will also be embarrassed into the urgent action we need.” – Li Shuo,Climate and Energy Policy Officer, Greenpeace China.

  • “We are facing an ever starker choice between two visions of the not so distant future, both of which will transform society as we know it today. From a risk management and business development perspective we need to finally take on board what the IPCC is telling us. The transition to a low carbon future is the only sensible choice.” – Mark Way, Head Sustainability Americas, Swiss Re

  • “The Government of South Australia accepts the IPCC’s clear message that we must take rapid action, and transition to a low carbon economy. I believe the release of the next installment of the IPCCs comprehensive review of global climate science will only increase our commitment to making this transition.” – South Australia’s Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Ian Hunter

  • “This latest IPCC report reinforces the need for us to accelerate action on climate change and underlines the economic, business, social and environmental reasons for doing so.” – Welsh Minister for Natural Resources, Alun Davies

  • “We have most of the technologies and tools to decarbonize economic growth. What is needed is the right policy incentives and political will to direct the capital flows towards a low carbon future…what is recommended by the IPCC Working Group III is happening in the world’s second largest economy. Decarbonizing both energy production and consumption, maximizing energy efficiency potential, scaling up renewable energy, and improving society’s awareness and behavior change are all among the priority actions.” – Changhua Wu, Greater China Director, The Climate Group.

  • “The threat of climate change is real and urgent. From a business point of view, it is already a competitive advantage to be a leader in green but governments can speed up the progress substantially by setting up a level playing field that rewards the leaders in low carbon technology and energy efficiency.” –  Johan Karlstrom, Skanska AB Chief Executive Officer

  • “Over the last 10 years, emissions have been increasing rapidly. The two-degree window is still open but it will become more expensive [to achieve]. – Bob Ward, policy and communications director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.


  • “The longer we delay on tackling climate change, the harder the challenge becomes. We know more effort is needed, and quickly. Delaying new mitigation efforts will make it much harder to transition the world’s energy systems to a sustainable, equitable and low-emissions future. “Transforming the world’s energy systems is now an urgent necessity if we are to avoid the dangerous impacts of global warming.” – Samantha Smith, leader of the WWF’s Global Climate & Energy Initiative.

  • “Renewable energy can no longer be considered a niche market. Renewables must – and should – eventually take the full share of the global energy market within the next few decades.” – Dr Stephan Singer, WWF director of global energy policy.

  • “We can only avoid catastrophic climate change if we reduce our dependency on fossil fuels – we’re already on track for four degrees warming which will be impossible for human society to adapt to. The developing countries that have done the least to cause climate change need financial support from richer nations for low carbon growth. Globally funded feed-in tariffs to boost the use of solar power would be a good start. We have the technology to prevent dangerous climate change. What we lack is the political will of our leaders to strongly champion renewable power and energy efficiency. But it’s not all gloom. Millions of people across the globe are already working to transform our energy systems, protect our food supplies and safeguard our planet and its people – including here in the UK where communities are saying no to fracking and yes to clean energy.” – Andy Atkins, Executive Director, Friends of the Earth UK

  • “Bioenergy does have a limited role in providing the energy we need, but not when it conflicts with food production or biodiversity protection. It mustn’t be allowed to threaten our forests, peat-lands or grasslands as these are important carbon stores. Carbon capture and storage remains as yet an unproven technology, so the focus right now must be on proven tools for reducing emissions such as solar power, wind energy and sustainable farming. It would be dangerous to rely on stripping carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere without knowing more about the risks involved, the costs and limits to storing it safely.” –  Andy Atkins, Executive Director, Friends of the Earth UK

  • “The Climate Group has been working with business and government partners to drive a ‘clean revolution’. The IPCC reports make it clear this needs to happen now…70-80% of the necessary technology is available today. What is needed is a combination of coordinated policy and corporate leadership to accelerate the transition. What is now beyond doubt is that the clean-tech sector is an attractive proposition for any investor: the global market is now worth more than $2.56 trillion a year, and is expected to be valued at more than $5.13 trillion by the mid-2020s. Just less than the combined GDPs of Germany and France. It is growing 12% a year and has been doing so steadily since 2007, a rate many of the world’s major economies would give an arm and a leg for. Top solar stocks averaged 302% over the past year, for example. A clean revolution is good news for consumers too – solar energy currently costs the same as electricity generated by coal and gas in many countries such as Germany, Italy and Mexico, with the cost trajectory on an ongoing downward path.” – Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group

  • “The IPCC report makes it clear that we need to triple or quadruple our use of low carbon energy by 2050.  It is against this backdrop that the Federal government is poised to slash Australia’s commitment to the renewable energy target.  The Australian government has got this policy wrong. Governments must enable, not disable, this change. Australian families are embracing solar because it makes economic sense. An average Australian family with an average sized solar system can reduce their power bill by around 65%. Solar energy saves money, creates jobs and helps us collectively reach the carbon emission targets outlined by the IPCC. Five million Australians have taken action on climate change by putting solar panels and solar hot water systems on their homes. In the process, they’ve started to transform Australia’s energy mix and helped reduce emissions from electricity.” – John Grimes, Chief Executive Australian Solar Council

  • “In times of climate change, energy policy is not about seeking competition between clean and dirty energy sources but about providing a path towards 100% renewables.” – Anna Leidreiter, policy officer, World Future Council Foundation.

  • “Climate change is an accelerant of global instability that presents clear threats to national security for countries around the world. We should act now to reduce emissions. That means switching to low and no-carbon sources of energy available now, and it means investing in the R&D needed to develop new sources of energy for the future. The military can lead on this, but we need the rest of society to come along as well.” – Brigadier General Stephen Cheney, USMC (Ret.), the CEO of the American Security Project

  • “The IPCC reports leave no doubt that climate change will have significant social and economic consequences unless substantial emissions reductions are achieved. This requires a significant scaling up of investment in low-carbon energy. The most effective way to stimulate this investment is through the implementation of ambitious policies which create incentives to invest in low-carbon technologies and reduce incentives to invest in fossil fuel energies. The longer investors wait for strong regional and global climate policy which could drive the transition to a low-carbon economy, the greater the risk of climate change which would inflict serious economic losses. By taking action now, policymakers can put the world on a low-carbon growth path.” – Stephanie Pfeifer, Chief Executive of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, which represents 91 European investors worth €7.5 trillion.


  • “It is clear that the high to low carbon capital switch must now be squeezed into a smaller timeframe. This squeeze raises the risk for institutional investors and governments. The one constant is the 2 degree barrier getting closer. Governments have proven they struggle to create the kind of carbon liabilities for high carbon companies required to manage physical climate risk. Their inaction must now force the institutional asset owners to form their own carbon price – a premium to drive early capital shifts in advance of governments suddenly and necessary playing catch up, with all the stranded asset risks and financial contagion risks that such a catch-up period would bring.” – Julian Poulter, Executive Director, Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP)

  • “We need innovation, and innovation will come most rapidly from free enterprise. Individual governments can spur that innovation by bringing accountability to emitters and by pricing carbon dioxide. America should pair that pricing with an income tax cut. That way we’d empower free markets to deliver innovation without growing government.” – Bob Inglis, Energy & Enterprise Initiative Executive Director and former Republican Congressman

Poverty/food security

  • “In a warming world, countries must either hang together in climate collaboration, or they will fall apart in climate chaos. After this report there can be no doubt that every country must tackle their emissions. Emissions are rising fastest in emerging economies and in the interest of their poorest citizens on the front line of climate change, they must play a bigger role than in the past. But rich countries cannot simply pass the buck – they must do their fair share by both slashing their emissions faster and finally providing the financial support for climate action in poor countries they have promised.” – Oxfam’s climate expert Jan Kowalzig

  • “Cutting emissions is vital to winning the fight against hunger. The report confirms that action on climate change will have tiny impacts on the economy and brings several important co-benefits – like better air quality and improved energy access for people living in poverty. If we fail to act on climate change, the chance of eradicating hunger from our world may be lost forever. This report shows cutting emissions sufficiently comes at little cost, so we have no excuse for letting that happen. The report shows that reducing emissions sufficiently requires a transformation in both the global energy and food systems. This report puts the fossil fuel companies and their financiers on notice: the era of fossil fuel energy is ending. We need a rapid transition to fairer and more sustainable ways of producing energy and food. Companies whose assets are being eroded by climate change, like those in the food sector, should not be spectators but should be leading this charge for a safer climate.” – Oxfam’s climate expert Jan Kowalzig

  • “The IPCC’s findings confirm that climate change is a man-made phenomenon that has emerged from largely unequal human development patterns. Even though a small, rich segment of the global population has caused the vast majority of greenhouse gas emissions, it is the world’s poorest people who are increasingly suffering from growing climate disruption. This is an extreme global injustice.” – Sven Harmeling, Climate Change Advocacy Coordinator, CARE International

  • “The IPCC’s findings show that climate change is here and it’s happening now. This latest report also amounts to another warning shot across the bows of the fossil fuel industry as it is increasingly clear that the majority of fossil fuels will have to be left in the ground. We know that solutions exist and global climate action makes sense. From investing in renewable energy to improving energy efficiency and driving behavioural change in richer parts of the world, governments need to pursue far more rigorous measures all-round if they are going to limit the scale of the growing climate catastrophe for the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.” – Sven Harmeling, Climate Change Advocacy Coordinator, CARE International

  • “The challenges our world faces in mitigating climate change now requires uniting with an unprecedented global-community mindset. Some soul-searching is in order for faith based organizations and houses of worship who are abdicating our moral responsibility to our most vulnerable neighbors in the developing world when we don’t lead by example and refuse to tolerate any less from our business and government leaders on climate change.” – Deborah Fikes, Representative to the United Nations for World Evangelical Alliance and Clean Revolution Ambassador.

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