“We have so much evidence that if we succeed in this transition, a more resilient, secure, peaceful and healthy future” lies ahead, Professor Johan Rockström said when asked for signs of #ACopHalfFull at COP27 last month.
Giving an honest assessment on where we are, the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, who has written or contributed to some of the most important and influential books ever written on climate, including the ‘The Human Quest: Prospering within Planetary Boundaries’; ‘Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet’; and most recently: ‘Earth for All: A Survival Guide for Humanity‘, said the “science is razor sharp” that “1.5 °C is a physical point we do not want to go beyond” and that “we have to do everything we can to decarbonise.”
Professor Rockström also insisted “we have to be honest with ourselves” that “we’re not making progress, we’re not bending the curve” in the way we need to be and that “we are lagging behind on the adaptation measures” and “struggling with loss and damage” which he says is “a very legitimate agenda item for the most fragile countries in the world”.
But as well as pointing to the extensive evidence showing a just transition can deliver a resilient future, the internationally-renowned scientist says there are other signs of momentum.
“Is there any light in the tunnel to fill up that glass slightly? Well of course, a hundred heads of state came to Sharm el-Sheikh, a COP meeting where we had very low expectations: that is a sign of momentum. We also have a sign of momentum in the business sector being continuously constructive. And we have very powerful voices from civil society.”
For these reasons, Professor Rockström says we must “hold on to the light in the tunnel” but also appreciate the “window is shutting”.
As we head towards 2023 the mission must be to push ourselves through that window of opportunity.