Climate + Energy

Pope Francis and the IPCC: can technology mitigate climate change?

Brookings Institute compares two recent seminal climate documents -- the papal encyclical, and the Fifth Assessment Report of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

There is much talk about the Pope’s recent encyclical on climate change and for good reason; yet again the Pope has proven capable of reconciling the Church with contentious contemporary issues. But another assessment, of greater length and detail, got much less attention from the public – the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report on Climate Change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a transnational body established by the United Nations, which compiles scientific papers on climate change to inform policymakers of potential impacts and mitigation options. The IPCC published its Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) in November 2014. Both AR5 and the Pope’s encyclical stress the importance of technology in mitigating climate change, yet also warn that technological innovation will not be enough to prevent the consequences of climate change without corresponding social and political impetus.

 

Both AR5 and the Pope’s encyclical stress the importance of technology in mitigating climate change, yet also warn that technological innovation will not be enough to prevent the consequences of climate change without corresponding social and political impetus.

Technological Innovation

The Pope and AR5 agree that substantial mitigation can come from technological innovation. The Pope shows a surprising command of technical knowledge in calling on world leaders to promote energy efficient industrial production, transportation systems that reduce pollution, and sustainable agriculture. The IPCC echoes the same message but is more quantitative in its approach.

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