A Survival Guide for Humanity

The IPCC's 6th Assessment Report

This is the big state of the world’s climate report, by hundreds of top climate scientists working together, and then approved by delegates from all the world's governments. What are the main points?

‘If we act now, we can still secure a liveable sustainable future for all’ said IPCC Chair, Hoesung Lee.

Globally, we've already warmed by 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels, and we're hit by more and worse extreme weather events. 

Every extra fraction of a degree of warming means rapidly escalating hazards - more intense heatwaves, heavier rainfall and other weather extremes, meaning more people - and other creatures too - going short of food and water. In every region, people are already dying from extreme heat. 

But emissions are still rising, and adding up all the plans of all the world’s governments, they’re too little and too slow. ‘The pace and scale of what has been done so far, and current plans, are insufficient to tackle climate change.’

This is a huge injustice. 'Those who have contributed least to climate change are being disproportionately affected,” said Aditi Mukherji, one of the authors.

Time is tight to halve emissions

We don't have long, and the 2020s are crucial. ‘Emissions should be decreasing by now and will need to be cut by almost half by 2030, if warming is to be limited to 1.5°C’. This ‘requires deep, rapid and sustained greenhouse gas emissions reductions in all sectors.’ So 'the choices made in the next few years will play a critical role in deciding our future and that of generations to come.’

But between us we do have enough know-how and enough money to do it, to cut our emissions and adapt at the pace we need to, the report found.

It was good to see the report say that indigenous and local knowledge are both very important alongside the scientific knowledge, and also the huge role of conservation - ‘Climate, ecosystems and society are interconnected. Effective and equitable conservation of approximately 30-50% of the Earth’s land, freshwater and ocean will help ensure a healthy planet.’

Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General, challenged every country to speed up their response, calling developed countries to reach net zero “as close as possible to 2040” and emerging economies to aim for 2050.

Climate Home News also has a good money summary as wealthy countries haven't kept their promises to transfer $100 billion of climate finance a year, but there is a hopeful new promise from COP27 to set up a Loss & Damage fund. The report makes clear how vital more funds are.

This is the synthesis report, bringing together 3 detailed reports published over the last 2 years. The IPCC do these Assessment Reports around every 7 years or so, the most authoritative climate science we have. 

Out of many sobering facts and graphs in the report, this one is very powerful:

IPCC 6AR emissions pathways graphic. Credit IPCC


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