The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is an up-to-date scientific understanding of planetary warming and current and future impacts.
It leaves no room for debate, as it starkly warns that climate change is widespread, rapid and intensifying, and bluntly names humans as the “unequivocal” cause.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres called the findings “a code-red for humanity”.
The disasters outlined include:
“Climate change is not a problem of the future – it’s here and now, and affecting every region in the world,” says Dr. Friederike Otto, from the University of Oxford, and one of the report’s many authors.
The report was authored by 234 scientists from 66 countries and cites more than 14,000 scientific papers. It is the first major update since 2013, when leading climate scientists determined that people were the “dominant cause” of global warming.
Human activity, primarily burning fossil fuels, has increased the average global temperature by about 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels. CO2 in the atmosphere is at its highest in at least two million years.
The IPCC and general scientific community warn that limiting planetary warming to 1.5°C, aligning with the Paris Agreement, is vital to avoiding cataclysmic climate problems.
Staying under the 1.5°C limit requires carbon emissions to be halved by 2030 and net-zero by 2050. Otherwise, 1.5°C will be reached between 2030 and 2052.
The new report reaffirms this. Under every scenario, the threshold is reached by 2040. If emissions are not reduced, 1.5°C could be gone in about a decade.
The crisis is affecting weather across the world, from extreme heatwaves and droughts to incredible cyclones and wildfires like those seen in Greece, Turkey and a lot of southern Europe. These are occurring with only 1°C of warming. There will be much bigger problems in the future if more action is not taken by governments, businesses and the public.
The IPCC considered five future emission scenarios. For all, global temperatures will continue to rise through to at least 2050. Global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century unless CO2 and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are greatly reduced in the next few decades.
The more we push the climate system from how it has been for the last several thousand years, the greater the odds that we will cross thresholds.
The report’s mountain of evidence shows that, without a gargantuan global effort to reduce GHG emissions, the world will endure even greater catastrophes. Past and future emissions have already solidified changes that will be “irreversible”, from rising sea levels to ocean acidification.
“We know there is no going back from some changes in the climate system. However, some of these could be slowed or stopped by limiting warming,” says Ko Barrett, IPCC Vice-Chair and Senior Adviser for Climate for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.
We are committed to addressing megatrends and supporting organizations to explore what they can do.
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From audits against international GHG, carbon footprint and environmental standards to technical due diligence to crystallize a project’s feasibility and environmental impacts, our solutions guide sustainable investment and delivery.
Our solutions incorporate six pillars that align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):