Haverkamp reacts to UN climate change report and federal infrastructure bill

August 13, 2021

Days after the United Nations climate change report sounded a "code red for humanity," Jennifer Haverkamp, professor of practice and director of the Graham Sustainability Institute, said there is still time to mitigate the effects of climate change.

In an interview with WXYZ Haverkamp said, "It's never too late. Even if some of these extreme impacts are baked into the system, there is still so much we can do to minimize the human misery that might come from it. Our best shot at slowing the warming is to focus in the near term on some of the very potent greenhouse gases that aren’t carbon dioxide, and by that I mean methane."

“I think the significance of the report is not in surprising new findings, but in the level of consensus,” Haverkamp told Michigan Radio's Stateside. She pointed out that there's still time to lessen the effects of climate change, but society must act quickly.

“When the IPCC came out with a report in 2018 called the 1.5 degree report, what it was doing was comparing how bad the effects would be if warming was limited to 1.5 degrees versus going to two degrees. And you saw things like two or three times as much wildlife habitat was destroyed just in that half degree of warming," she said. "And so when I look at this report, what I take away from it is the more we can do to limit how much warming we have, the fewer people will die of flooding or heat, the fewer wildlife will go extinct. There's so much that we, I think, can make better or avoid making worse, but we have to act quickly.”

Haverkamp highlighted one of the most important factors is to address super pollutants, like methane. "And so if we really have a chance of avoiding some of the really adverse effects that this report predicts, it's incumbent on the world to really reduce emissions of methane in particular, but also nitrous oxide and coolants like hydrofluorocarbons in the next decade.”

The United States made some progress on climate policy this week, with the Senate passing the infrastructure bill. Haverkamp discussed the impact the bill will have with Marketplace.

"It’s a significant move in the right direction with some good elements in there, and especially important for what it signals about a bipartisan recognition of the importance of addressing climate change infrastructure,” she said.

Read the news items featuring Haverkamp below: