Auditing consistency with the IPCC: Summary for selected groups
Society is not acting on climate change in the way that the scientific consensus says that it should.
Many people accept the facts that the climate is changing, and the interpretation that this is due to mankind burning fossil fuels, but they fail to act on the implications for actions that need to be taken, which sociologists term implicatory denial.
The performance of several organisations committed to climate action was assessed using a checklist for consistency with the IPCC.
A summary of the results is presented here.
Several influential groups were found to be contradicting the IPCC in the need for urgent radical action, and so are acting as a barrier to effective climate action.
Table Assessment of selected organisations against a checklist for consistency with the IPCC regarding climate action
Organisation (with link to assessment)
|Climate action an overriding priority
|Temperature limit e.g. 1.5°C
|Keeping to the IPCC CO2 budget
|Including equity between nations
|Including all CO2 emissions
|Double digit percentage annual emission cuts
|Credibly compliant policies
|Avoiding false solutions
|Number of fails
|Fridays for Future
|Campaign Against Climate Change
|UK Climate Change Committee
|Climate Emergency UK
|Ethical Consumer Magazine*
|Friends of the Earth
*Following correspondence, Ethical Consumer plan to make changes to their next (2023) Climate Gap Report.
Society is not acting on climate change in the way that the scientific consensus says that it should. Global emissions are still rising and in developed countries, emissions are not falling fast enough.
Many people accept the facts that the climate is changing, and the interpretation that this is due to mankind burning fossil fuels, but they fail to act on the implications for actions that need to be taken, which sociologists term implicatory denial. There are concerns that climate denial in various forms is widespread across society .
Messaging that is inconsistent with the scientific consensus has been identified as a barrier that is delaying the radical action needed . In response to this problem, Scientists for Global Responsibility has launched its Science Oath for the Climate , which commits signatories to "explain honestly, clearly and without compromise, what scientific evidence tells us about the seriousness of the climate emergency".
This documents presents a summary table showing the assessments for a number of organisations regarding whether their messaging is consistent with the scientific consensus.
Assessments were made via a checklist - see document 138.
Results summaryThe table above shows a summary of the results. There are links to the individual assessments.
CommentIt might be expected that groups advocating for action on climate change would be faithfully relaying the scientific consensus in their messaging. The assessments presented here indicate that this is often not happening and the personal experience of the author is that this is a very common phenomenon.
A common flaw is to endorse the UK Government's timescale for emission cuts despite this being inconsistent with the Paris Agreement. This is also a problem with Friends of the Earth, the largest grassroots environmental organisation - see document 139. Instead, much faster cuts are needed .
It it extraordinary that many campaigning organisations are acting as a barrier to climate action.
There are some parallels with the struggle for civil rights in the USA, where Martin Luther King commented on the "white moderates" acting as a barrier to change in his Letter from Birmingham Jail .
I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice.
|Iain Walker and Zoe Leviston (2019) There are three types of climate change denier - and most of us are at least one The Conversation https://theconversation.com/there-are-three-types-of-climate-change-denier-and-most-of-us-are-at-least-one-124574
|Turning delusion into climate action - Prof Kevin Anderson, an interview (2020) Responsible Science https://www.sgr.org.uk/resources/turning-delusion-climate-action-prof-kevin-anderson-interview
|Scientists for Global Responsibility. A science oath for the climate: text and signing (2020) https://www.sgr.org.uk/projects/science-oath-climate-text-and-signing
|See the commentary at document 128; or the report: Jackson T (2021) Zero Carbon Sooner: Revised case for an early zero carbon target for the UK. CUSP Working Paper No 29. Guildford: University of Surrey. https://cusp.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/WP-29-Zero-Carbon-Sooner-update.pdf
|Martin Luther King (1963) Letter from Birmingham Jail https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/sites/mlk/files/letterfrombirmingham_wwcw_0.pdf (accessed 3.3.21).
Attribution: Green tick: Pigeon43 CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
First published: 10 Feb 2023
Last updated: 21 Aug 2023