IPCC underscores climate urgency

The renewables sector will hope the latest UN report on climate change helps to shift policymakers and investors towards favouring clean-energy initiatives over damaging alternatives.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is stark in its assessment of the damage already done by emissions – and the much greater consequences ahead.

The IPCC said in a statement following its release in Japan: “The report concludes that responding to climate change involves making choices about risks in a changing world. The nature of the risks of climate change is increasingly clear, though climate change will also continue to produce surprises.”

The report was seized upon by renewable energy advocates around the world, hoping it will feed into the big policy arguments playing out as tensions grow between investment in renewables and other, less climate-friendly agendas.

In Europe – where a fierce intergovernmental debate is underway over emissions and renewable energy targets – the EU’s climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard said: "More knowledge is always good, more action would be even better. When the alarm goes off, many just hit the snooze button. This does not work anymore when it comes to climate.

"It's time to wake up and bring action to the scale needed. Europe is preparing an ambitious reduction target for 2030 to be adopted later this year. I appeal to all major emitters to do the same urgently. It's time to get serious."

In Australia, Greens leader Christine Milne said the ruling Coalition of Tony Abbott – which has adopted a climate-sceptic stance – should heed the IPPC’s warnings.

Milne said: "In the face of more calls for a global response, the Abbott government wants to rip up every policy and tear down every defence that Australia has against climate change."

James Cameron, chairman of Climate Change Capital, predicted the report would help the reshaping of the investment landscape.

"You will see much more activity from governments on climate in the next two years. In addition institutional investors will be looking to invest away from risk and towards opportunity in the transformation we must make,” Cameron said.

“They will reassess risk in familiar asset classes and look for competitive advantage in advance of the overall objectives of their funds. They will tell public policy makers they will do substantially more investing in reducing emissions if there is better cost internalising policy like a value for carbon.”