The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report has confirmed our worst fears. We are not doing enough and we are not doing it fast enough. We are facing warming beyond 2 degrees meaning irreversible change and mass extinction.
What we know for certain is that the world’s poorest will be the hardest hit, that those who have contributed least to climate change are already bearing the majority of its effects – earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes! Thousands of lives have already been lost. A child born now will experience four times as many disasters as their grandparents.
The IPCC calls for net-zero NOW, not in 2050. That means:
- no more coal and gas
- urgent investment into renewable energy, and
- ending all fossil fuel subsidies.
The IPCC confirms that a circular economy, redistributive policies, social equity and a just transition can be our only way forward.
A synthesis of the 6th assessment report , 2023
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) held a press conference in Interlaken, Switzerland, on March 20, 2023 to release the closing chapter of the Sixth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2023: Synthesis Report.
The IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee said: “This Synthesis Report underscores the urgency of taking more ambitious action and shows that, if we act now, we can still secure a liveable sustainable future for all.”
In 2018, the IPCC highlighted the unprecedented scale of the challenge required to keep warming to 1.5°C. Five years later, that challenge has become even greater due to a continued increase in greenhouse gas emissions. The pace and scale of what has been done so far, and current plans, are insufficient to tackle climate change.
More than a century of burning fossil fuels as well as unequal and unsustainable energy and land use has led to global warming of 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels. This has resulted in more frequent and more intense extreme weather events that have caused increasingly dangerous impacts on nature and people in every region of the world.
Every increment of warming results in rapidly escalating hazards. More intense heatwaves, heavier rainfall and other weather extremes further increase risks for human health and ecosystems.
Losses and damages in sharp focus
The report, approved during a week-long session in Interlaken, brings into sharp focus the losses and damages we are already experiencing, and will continue into the future, hitting the most vulnerable people and ecosystems especially hard. Taking the right action now could result in the transformational change essential for a sustainable, equitable world.
“Climate justice is crucial because those who have contributed least to climate change are being disproportionately affected,” said Aditi Mukherji, one of the 93 authors of this Synthesis Report, the closing chapter of the Panel’s sixth assessment.
“Almost half of the world’s population lives in regions that are highly vulnerable to climate change. In the last decade, deaths from floods, droughts and storms were 15 times higher in highly vulnerable regions,” she added.
The solution lies in climate resilient development. This involves integrating measures to adapt to climate change, with actions to reduce or avoid greenhouse gas emissions in ways that provide wider benefits. However, climate resilient development becomes progressively more challenging with every increment of warming. This is why the choices made in the next few years will play a critical role in deciding our future and that of generations to come.
To be effective, these choices need to be rooted in our diverse values, worldviews and knowledge, including scientific knowledge, Indigenous Knowledge and local knowledge. This approach will facilitate climate resilient development and allow locally appropriate, socially acceptable solutions.
Enabling sustainable development
There are tried and tested policy measures that can work to achieve deep emissions reductions and climate resilience, if they are scaled up and applied more widely. Political commitment, coordinated policies, international cooperation, ecosystem stewardship and inclusive governance are all important for effective and equitable climate action.
If technology, know-how and suitable policy measures are shared, and adequate finance is made available now, every community can reduce or avoid carbon-intensive consumption. At the same time, with significant investment in adaptation, we can avert rising risks, especially for vulnerable groups and regions.
“Transformational changes are more likely to succeed where there is trust, where everyone works together to prioritise risk reduction, and where benefits and burdens are shared equitably,” Lee said. “We live in a diverse world in which everyone has different responsibilities and different opportunities to bring about change. Some can do a lot while others will need support to help them manage the change.”
Note: The content for this article has been extracted from the Press Release issued for the release of the IPCC 6th Synthesis Report on Climate Change, 20 March 2023. See the following useful links: https://www.ipcc.ch/2023/03/20/press-release-ar6-synthesis-report/
You can also watch a recording of this Press Conference at this You Tube link: https://youtu.be/bulhsb4IZFQ
And read the full report: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/sixth-assessment-report-cycle/