"The scientific evidence is unequivocal: climate change is a threat
to human well being and the health of the planet. Any further delay
in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window
to secure a liveable future."

Hans-Otto PÖrtner.
Co-chair of Working Group 2 of the Sixth Assessment Report. 28.2.2022.
Impact, adaptation, vulnerability

Remit of groups contributing to the 6th assessment report of the IPCC.
Working Group 1. The Physical Sciences. Finalised 6th August 2021.
Working Group 2. Impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Released 28th February 2022.
Working Group 3. Mitigation of climate change.
Finalised 4th April 2022. https://www.ipcc.ch/report/sixth-assessment-report-working-group-3/

History of the IPCC. https://www.ipcc.ch/about/history/
IPCC is an acronym for intergovernmental panel on climate change.


The full sixth assessment report is scheduled for release in September 2022.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) set up the IPCC, which the UN General Assembly (UNGA) endorsed in 1988. The IPCC advises governments and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC). The Convention is an agreement the UN adopted 9 May 1992. Output from the IPCC is not prescriptive. It's purpose is to ensure policy makers know the latest relevant science and the consequences of that science. The UNFCC is the umbrella text under which climate-change agreements, such as the legally binding 2015 Paris agreement (1), are made. Paris limits global warming to well below 2 degrees centigrade (the aim was close to 1.5 degrees) above pre-industrial levels by the middle of this century.


Published online as html 18th May 2022.

By Helen Gavaghan


War between Russia and Ukraine is dwarfing that humanity faces an existential threat. A threat we cannot solve without peace between Russia and Ukraine. The World, which does not have unity in its response to Russia's actions, is in danger of washing down the drain 30 years of research into human-caused climate change. Carried with the loss of that effort will be the future humanity has been making for itself, as well as the good which people could, if they chose, do for the rest of biology. For that reason this magazine thinks the UN's suspension of Russia from the UN's Human Rights' Council was right.

Russia has also broken, as far as anyone in the general public can tell, with the essence of the UN, and when there is no overwhelming justification. Russia has crossed a border under arms, in anger, and against the wishes of the invaded country. Yet such an attack does not give "The West" the right to ramp up spending on arms, and bring into sharp focus all the global tensions possible if non-Nato and non-European countries see the West's beefed up arms spending as a threat. Now is the time for restraint in all matters of arming nations, and it is the time to move nuclear arms from nation states into control of a body responsible to the UN General Assembly, not to the UN Security Council. Nuclear weapons need taking off the table.

Each nation within the UN has a right to conduct its own affairs as it sees fit, as long as it does not damage or threaten a neighbour. Within the concept of threat lies the basis of War. Nations tend to see their actions according to their own benefit and thus can miss what another nation sees as a threat. Each nation has a right within the UN to have its borders respected by other nations. Only if Ukraine had weapons of mass destruction threatening Russia, or was seeking to control Russia's nuclear infrastructure could Russia have a case to take to the UN. If such a case exists, why did it not take that case to the UN?

If not weapons of mass destruction, what possible threat could Ukraine have posed to Russia? If the Russian Government is keeping anything back - be it cyber attack (Ukraine has significant IT competence) or manipulation of power distribution infrastructure - it is shameful. Though there can be a whiff sometimes of undeserved sanctimony about we living in and supporting liberal democracies, we have not yet invaded North Korea. We did invade Iraq, on the grounds of over-interpreted intelligence, even as Russia opposed that War. Is Russia now making the same mistake, but not telling the World? Perhaps for fear of revealing intelligence sources? Russia needs the courage to tell the world its thinking in full. Because if what we have heard so far is Russia's full justification, we are looking at an unjust War.

Russia is a sophisticated political union with brilliant scientists, artists, dancers, musicians, and poets. From Tsars to Stalin, the Russian people do not have a history of accepting tyrants lightly. It is a country which has set itself on a path from dictatorship to democray. In the UK, we know the road to universal suffrage and fair elections can take centuries. If President Putin is still in power, it is because that is what the people of the Russian Federation accept. There are too many ways in the 21st Century to circumvent State-control of communication, so we cannot wholly blame censorship, and propaganda, and elections that could have paid more attention to freedom of debate.

For the Russian people to act, they, as much as the rest of the World, need to know in full why their elected politicians have allowed their country to become villains in the eyes of the Western world. The relationship between Ukraine and Russia was obviously troubled, but it is hard to see where Ukraine assaulted Russia's Sovereignty, or threatened its existence. Did something happen the night before Russia sent troops into Crimea additional to those there already by agreement? What are we missing? Or, what in the structures of our World has failed peace? We need to know now — in 2022, not in history books -- why this War has happened. Quite apart from internally displaced Ukrainians, and refugees, and bankers become soldiers, and the dead, this is a time when the human race cannot afford the distraction, or for budgets to be diverted to an arms race. I find it hard to believe the cause of this War is the situation in Eastern Ukraine, despite Putin having written in Modern Diplomacy in August 2021 (2) that Ukraine did not need Donbas.

We need to break free from World War II rhetoric and comparisons. That was when balance-of-power geopolitics swept away The League of Nations. We need to break away from Cold War thrillers. That stage of history is gone.

The long road to disarmament and multilateralism began in 1899 with The First Hague Peace Conference. That was a Russian initiative. WWII diverted the path. But for 120 years we have gradually acquired international legal infrastructure. If we can start respecting and using that infrastructure more, we might find some of the hidden causes of War. The point of the UN is that all UN Member States, liberal democracy or not, may turn to the Courts.

We need also to get behind the headlines. As a journalist my news job is the "what, who, when and where" of an event. Why is harder. If the person I approach for comment is not of the right level of competence, power and knowledge, or does not have the full picture, the reason they give for "why" an event has occurred might as well have been plucked at random from an automated word generator. War lives in the "why" of events. Russians are not fools. President Putin is well educated. For an operation in the East of Ukraine in a region with a common border with Russia, the Federation's army entered Ukraine via a third country. Why? What in the geography of Eastern Ukraine made Russian troops entry there militarily unfavourable? The North of Ukraine is bordered by a country friendly to Russia. By crossing from Belarus into Ukraine, Russia made it unambiguously clear it was declaring war on Ukraine, not shoring up ---- against the charter of the UN ---- a self-declared regime. That means Russia might have a full mobilisation in mind, though recent NATO transfers of military equipment to Ukraine might make Russia think twice.

In 1899 the Russian State knew that defence spending and arms races drain the life blood of nations. Today the same country has fired a starting gun which could set NATO, and thus China, Pakistan, India and the whole world on a terrifying arms race. Which makes it a shame there is weakness in the anti-ballistic missile (ABM) Treaty. The ABM Treaty is an occasion when Putin might have been on the right side of history. Of all the States in the UN, Russia, as instigator of the First Hague Peace Conference, should be the one nation globally clamouring loudest for a diplomatic exit from the current tragedy, but without the full facts, diplomacy does not stand a chance. I do not accept Putin can really sees NATO as a threat, though if not properly armed, NATO could be a temptation for a strong hostile State.

The Russian Federation's action has wrecked knowingly two economies. The hubris of that act is hard to comprehend. It has wrecked the economic wellbeing of two great peoples, and the security of those who trade with them. The whole world is waiting for the economic wave to wash up on its shores. What the impact will be is, as yet, unknown. What could possibly be so big a threat to Russia that its President and his advisors would knowingly embark on the actions it has undertaken? Until we know, suspension from the UN Human Rights' Council makes sense at a lot of levels. Suspension from Climate Change agreements and other treaties to which the Russian Federation is a party would not. Might climate change and energy supply be the place where Ukraine and The Russian Federation find common ground that enables peace talks? Joint defence of energy infrastructure could become a microcosm - like the International Space Station - where the two nations work together.

What the World does not need is the geopolitics of a Slavonic Flodden Fields, though the Russian military strategy (a strategy of a Country at War) does seem to be aware of that danger, if one thinks of Russia as England, and of Ukraine as France. Is it possible Russia has accomplished its real war aim already?

1. UN Climate Change on Paris.
2. The Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians. Date line 15.9.2021.

published online as html 18th may 2022. the article will be incorporated into the pdf for sale.
minor typos and minor clarifications made 19th may 2022.
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