“The exit from the road has already occurred, the challenge now is to reduce the number of barrels”François Gemenne, a researcher and co-author of the IPCC report published the same day, said on Monday, February 28, at franceinfo. The IPCC recommends accelerating efforts in “adaptation policy” to global warming, the effects of which are already visible throughout the world. “Sometimes we have the impression that we are looking for excuses to look elsewhere”denounces the researcher, who advocates the establishment “protective infrastructures, in particular against flooding or the risk of submersion”.
franceinfo: In this report, the picture is dramatic, even pessimistic about the future. What is the urgency? What needs to be done quickly?
Francois Gemenne: The current urgency, even for France and for Europe, is to develop mechanisms to adapt to the impacts of climate change. For a long time we have believed, at least in Europe, that the impacts of climate change would occur first in other places, that others would be affected or that our task in the face of climate change was only to reduce our emissions. However, we see that the impacts of climate change are already underway, they will not forgive us and for this reason it is urgent to put the turbo on the adaptation processes. This first involves land redevelopment plans, particularly in the face of sea level rise or changes in agriculture. It is also about protection infrastructures, in particular against floods or risk of submersion. I am thinking here of coastal areas in particular. This also implies preventive measures for populations in the face of extreme climate change events. Finally, these are civil protection services, early warning measures and evacuation of populations in the event of a crisis.
These are difficult issues to discuss, even more so at this time with the war in Ukraine. Do you feel like we don’t talk enough?
Very clearly, we don’t talk enough and, in fact, it is an issue that is overshadowed by other somewhat useless controversies, such as questions of identity, questions of culture wars. Sometimes we feel like we’re looking for excuses to look elsewhere. For the rest, there is certainly a coordination problem at the global level. If you are alone taking action against climate change, your action is useless. I hope this report can shed some light on that. Especially since there is a very strong link with social inequalities. We show how the impacts of climate change have widened inequalities within a society, which, in turn, will also make this society more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
Doesn’t that basically mean that a cultural, if not political, change is needed?
In any case, we must very clearly rebalance the course of things. We must realize that the impacts of climate change will not only be for others, but also for us. We also need to realize that the impacts of climate change are already occurring around the world. In several sectors we are reaching the limits of adaptation and therefore, at the same time that we must reduce our greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible, we must also adapt more, prepare more for the impacts of climate change. The challenge is not only to avoid going off the road, but also to reduce the number of rollovers because the exit has already occurred.