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The Science of Climate Change

Climate change is no longer a distant threat or just a possibility, it is now a reality for all of us. In this pathway, Kevin Trenberth, a renowned climatologist, delves into the science behind climate change. He first introduces the climate system, its main components and forces.

Tackling the Plastic Crisis

Plastic pollution is by far the biggest threat to our oceans and this remains an incredibly tough problem to solve. Plastic credits could potentially serve as one of the much needed solutions for this crisis.

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The Scale of the Net Zero Challenge

The price of meeting net zero is estimated to be between $100-150 trillion over the next 30 years. Regardless of this cost, we need to reach net zero before climate change does irreversible damage to the environment and the economy.

ESG, Sustainability and Impact Jargon Buster

ESG, sustainability, impact… they all just mean green, right? Not quite. Despite being used often interchangeably, there are distinct differences between these terms.

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The Science of Climate Change

Climate change is no longer a distant threat or just a possibility, it is now a reality for all of us. In this pathway, Kevin Trenberth, a renowned climatologist, delves into the science behind climate change. He first introduces the climate system, its main components and forces.

Tackling the Plastic Crisis

Plastic pollution is by far the biggest threat to our oceans and this remains an incredibly tough problem to solve. Plastic credits could potentially serve as one of the much needed solutions for this crisis.

More pathways

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+1,000 expert presented, on-demand video modules

Learning analytics

Keep track of learning progress with our comprehensive data

Interactive learning

Engage with our video hotspots and knowledge check-ins

Testing & certification

Gain CPD / CPE credits and professional certification

Managed learning

Build, scale and manage your organisation’s learning

Integrations

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Featured Content

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The Scale of the Net Zero Challenge

The price of meeting net zero is estimated to be between $100-150 trillion over the next 30 years. Regardless of this cost, we need to reach net zero before climate change does irreversible damage to the environment and the economy.

ESG, Sustainability and Impact Jargon Buster

ESG, sustainability, impact… they all just mean green, right? Not quite. Despite being used often interchangeably, there are distinct differences between these terms.

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How the IPCC Assesses the Aviation Sector

How the IPCC Assesses the Aviation Sector

Jonathan Preist

In this video, Jonathan Preist introduces the intricate relationship between aviation and climate change. He first explains the roles of UNFCCC and IPCC with respect to commercial aviation. He then introduces IPCC Working Groups and outlines the scope of their reports and finally lists some key takeaways concerning the aviation sector.

In this video, Jonathan Preist introduces the intricate relationship between aviation and climate change. He first explains the roles of UNFCCC and IPCC with respect to commercial aviation. He then introduces IPCC Working Groups and outlines the scope of their reports and finally lists some key takeaways concerning the aviation sector.

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How the IPCC Assesses the Aviation Sector

10 mins 25 secs

Overview

Human activities have unequivocally caused global warming, impacting weather extremes. One of the sectors that shares a complex relationship with climate change is the aviation sector. But in order to construct a meaningful opinion on this relationship, it’s important to have a relevant scientific foundation. As the aviation sector is hard-to-decarbonise, it is both vulnerable and targeted. The IPCC and its 3 Working Groups outline the Physical Science behind this relationship as well as provide Mitigation and Adaptation options for the aviation sector.

Key learning objectives:

  • Understand the roles of the UNFCCC and the IPCC, in particular with respect to commercial aviation

  • Understand the roles of the different IPCC Working Groups and the scope of their reports

  • Outline the key aviation-related conclusions of the various elements of the IPCC Assessment Report 6

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Summary
What are the roles of the UNFCCC and the IPCC?

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) entered into force in 1994 with the ultimate aim of “Preventing dangerous human interference with the climate system”. The Conference Of the Parties (COP), is its supreme decision-making body that manages the intergovernmental process. Recently, the most important COPs have been the COP21 which took place in Paris in 2015, during which the Paris Agreement was negotiated, and the COP 26 which took place in Glasgow in 2021 and focused on increasing Mitigation, Adaptation, Finance & Collaboration. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change in an objective and comprehensive manner. It does not perform research itself but instead analyses scientific literature and prepares comprehensive Assessment Reports. These give insights into the state of scientific, technical and socio-economic knowledge on climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for reducing the rate at which climate change is taking place. 

What is the approach of the IPCC and its Working Groups?

IPCC uses scenario modelling to explore future emissions, climate change, impacts, risks, and possible mitigation and adaptation strategies. It has 3 Working Groups tasked with different responsibilities:

  1. Working Group 1 - The Physical Science Basis. This examines the physical science underpinning past, present, and future climate change.
  2. Working Group 2 - Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. This group assesses the impacts of climate change on ecosystems, biodiversity, and humans, their vulnerabilities and the capacities and limits of these systems to adapt. It also studies options for creating a sustainable future for all, through an equitable and integrated approach to mitigation and adaptation.
  3. Working Group 3 - Mitigation of Climate Change. This suggests mitigation options, technical feasibility, cost and the enabling conditions.

Group 1 feeds Group 2 with the understanding and capability to design effective climate change adaptation policies and it feeds Group 3 with the amount of carbon emissions compatible with climate and energy targets and other information necessary to build strategies to mitigate against the impacts of climate change.

What is the summary of the 3 Working Group reports, regarding the aviation sector?

  • Aviation contributes to climate change via a number of climate forcers (CO2, NOx and Condensation trails)
  • In 2018, aviation was responsible for 3.8% of the Effective Radiative Forcing
  • Condensation trails are only produced by the aviation sector and are the largest aviation climate forcer.
  • The aviation sector is hard-to-abate or hard-to-decarbonise due to dependency on liquid fossil fuels and the timescales needed to modify infrastructure
  • One less long-haul flight has the greatest ‘avoid’ potential for CO2 emissions reduction, equivalent magnitude as the annual emissions of a car. Indicating aviation is vulnerable to changes in society, which could potentially occur in rapid timescales
  • The emissions from domestic aviation are accounted for in the commitments of states via their NDCs, however the CO2 emissions from International aviation, that accounts for approximately ⅔ of the total volume of traffic, are generally not included in the NDCs. 
  • Carbon pricing is identified as being effective in promoting implementation of low cost emissions reductions, however the IPCC underlines some limitations
  • The impacts of extreme weather events are already between ‘moderate’ and ‘high’ levels
  • Aviation is only at the early stages of adaptation planning

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Jonathan Preist

Jonathan Preist

Jonathan Preist, a 20-year Airbus employee, has extensive experience in Overall Aircraft Design, which encompasses various aspects of aircraft performance and environmental impact. After completing a master's degree in Global Management of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Development at Mines ParisTech, Jonathan focuses on educating Airbus Commercial Aircraft engineers to have a transformative impact on the company and its products. He defines sustainability competences and designs training courses, video pathways, seminars, and infographics. Jonathan collaborates with French engineering schools Supaero, ENAC, INSA, and Campus de la Transition, aiming to equip engineering students and professionals with theoretical knowledge and practical skills.

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