Glasgow standings: no wonders yet, even small steps

Considerably less methane emissions, an end to deforestation within ten years and no more government support for overseas projects in coal, oil and gas. Halfway through the Glasgow climate summit, the first results are in. News hour takes stock with three climate scientists: โ€œTheres still a sense of it: it can be a little later or a little less.โ€

โ€œI dont expect miracles,โ€ says Michael Oppenheimer, a leading climate scientist at Princeton University. โ€œGlasgow is part of a lengthy process. Sometimes big steps are taken, but most of the time its hard work for a little progress. The problem is, of course, that the clock is ticking. We have little time to one and a half degree of warming.โ€

Oppenheimer has been involved in the United Nations Climate Panel IPCC for over 25 years. The high expectations around the climate summit are disturbing him. โ€œThis summit will not be a major failure or a resounding success. Thats because climate policy is mostly about domestic policy. A countrys internal policy plays a role in this. The domestic policy of China, the US or the Netherlands is not an international conference.โ€

Oppenheimer does hope that progress will be made in terms of transparency. Think of the information that countries need to share with each other to show that they do what they promise.

Chilean climate scientist Maisa Rojas, a member of the University of Chile, is co-authorof the latest IPCC report in Glasgow. โ€œIts positive to see the world moving. I hear from many people that our report really had an impact. Now we hope that countries not only face reality, but also understand that it is necessary to hurry. Not everyone seems to be permeated yet.โ€

Rojas was impressed by the speech of Barbados Prime Minister Mia Motley. She called an average temperature increase of two degrees โ€œa death sentenceโ€ for low-lying island states like Barbados. โ€œWe scientists use our heads,โ€ says Rojas. โ€œThe world needs to be transformed and resilient to climate change. That doesnt just take something from our heads, but also our hearts. A leader who manages to speak to our hearts impresses me.โ€

Oppenheimer is skeptical about the use of (too) big words. โ€œIt is unclear whether such far-reaching statements make people move or paralyze people. Like: I cant help it anyway, Im just going to play soccer for a game.โ€


โ€œThere is still a sense of it: it can also be a little later or a little less,โ€ says Dutch climate scientist Sybren Drijfhout, professor of climate dynamics at Utrecht University and associated with KNMI. โ€œWhile I dont think I can, given the objective. Or you want to make a big switch on future generations.โ€

Driftwood contributed to multiple climate reports. He sees that climate science is increasingly being listened to, although he believes that the real sense of urgency is still lacking in policymakers. Driftwood does not see it as its task to advise politicians what policies they should implement. โ€œBut its our job to keep saying: if you do or fail to do this, thats the consequence.โ€


summit in Glasgow will end in a week. It should also be clear whether the target of one and a half degree of warming remains at your fingertips. Oppenheimer believes that it should not be associated with too much significance. โ€œPersonally, I think were not going to get the one and a half degree. Of course we have to do our utmost. But its important to realize that its not the end of the world if it doesnt work out.โ€

The American emphasizes that that saves every tenth degree of warming the world knows how to avoid climate misery. โ€œThe fact that we miss that one goal doesnt mean we have to give it up. With every temperature restriction, we save property – and more importantly, human lives.โ€