That’s one important lesson to be learned from the IPCC’s Synthesis Report of the data obtained during its Sixth Assessment Cycle. In order to have a greater than 50% chance of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius or a greater than 67 percent chance of limiting it to two degrees Celsius, all economic sectors would need to begin quickly, profound, and, in most cases, immediate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions before 2030. Nonetheless, the IPCC stressed that if world leaders take swift action, it is entirely possible to improve the outlook for the planet.
According to IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee in a news release, mainstreaming equitable and effective climate action will have wider benefits in addition to reducing losses and damages to both nature and humans. This Synthesis Report highlights the need for more ambitious action and demonstrates that, if we take action now, we still have time to ensure a sustainable future for everyone.
Despite having 93 authors, the study drew on all IPCC assessments that have been released since the Global review group started its Sixth Assessment Cycle in 2015. They include the Special Report on Warming of 1.5 Degrees Celsius, the Physical Scientific Basis report from Working Group I, the Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability report from Working Group II, and the Mitigation of Climate Change report from Working Group III.
The IPCC conducts assessments every six to seven years, and its Fifth Assessment Report, which was released in 2014, served as the primary scientific source for the Paris Agreement negotiations. The UN panel that reviews climate research is hopeful that its most recent recommendation will have a similar impact.
The research makes it crystal clear that greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, in particular, have already warmed the globe by 1.1 degrees Celsius above the average temperature between 1850 and 1900, and that this has caused extensive and quick changes in the air, ocean, and land.
The World Resources Institute also noted that these changes are more severe than anticipated, with flooding and other extreme storms forcing more than 20 million people from their homes each year since 2008 while, at the same time, about half of the world’s population struggles with severe water scarcity at least one month out of the year. The authors of the research observed that many of the hazards estimated in the report were higher than expected by the Fifth Assessment Report, which only serves to exacerbate the situation with each degree of warming.
According to Dr. Friederike Otto, senior lecturer in climate science at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College London and the report’s primary author, the new SYR illustrates the seriousness of the issue.
All of the already negatively impacted environmental and human systems are depicted in the very first figure. In other words, far more people than initially believed had lost their lives and means of support. Although scientists have long anticipated significant climate change, we humans and our societies are more vulnerable than previously believed.
But, These Effects Have Not Been Felt Uniformly, as The Report’s Authors Were Quick to Note.
Author of the report Dr. Aditi Mukherji stated in the IPCC release that climate justice is essential since people who have contributed the least to climate change are suffering disproportionately. Almost 50% of the population of the globe resides in areas that are extremely sensitive to climate change. In the previous ten years, deaths from floods, droughts, and storms were 15 times more common in areas with a high vulnerability.
Governments, businesses, and individuals have started to take action in response to the climate problem; if they hadn’t, annual emissions of carbon dioxide would probably be several gigatons greater. Despite this, present policies are still gravely inadequate. The world is still on course to experience 3.2 degrees of warming by 2100 based on the policies put in place to date.
The current course of action shows a grave failure on the part of both our national and international political systems.
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Jason Hickelof the Autonomous University of Barcelona’s Institute of Environmental Science and Technology posted on Twitter. We require far stronger international cooperation and much more active mitigation.
But, if emissions are roughly cut in half this decade and reach net zero by either the early 2050s for 1.5 degrees or the early 2070s for two degrees, global warming can still be kept to 1.5 or two degrees Celsius by the end of the century. The authors of the report found that in order to achieve this, there will need to be a significant reduction in the development and extraction of fossil fuels.
Otherwise, the remaining carbon budget for two degrees of warming would be completely consumed by current and planned developments, they found. Current fossil fuel infrastructure would emit enough on its own to exceed the 1.5-degree temperature target.
The information was released just one week after President Joe Biden gave his approval to ConocoPhillips’ contentious Willow oil drilling project in Alaska, despite his pledges to cut American emissions in half by 2030.
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Shaye Wolf, director of climate science at the Center for Biological Diversity, expressed her absolute rage in a statement emailed to EcoWatch. “Reading the UN’s most grave climate warnings only days after Biden allowed large new Arctic oil drilling is utterly upsetting,” she said. It’s clear that using fossil fuels will lead to further climate disasters, widespread migration, and the extinction of animals, but this is not a given.
Of all international leaders, Biden possesses the means to both accelerate the use of renewable energy sources and firmly wean the world off fossil fuels. The path to a livable planet has been plotted out by scientists, but we still need the political will to take us there.
Beyond ending the use of fossil fuels, the report offered a number of solutions to lessen emissions and aid vulnerable communities in adapting to climate change. These included increasing access to renewable energy, enhancing transportation by enabling more options for walking, bicycling, taking public transportation, and preserving between 30 and 50 percent of the land and ocean area of the planet.
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Several of these remedies would also address other issues with equity, the environment, or health. Decarbonizing transportation and power, for instance, would reduce air pollution and improve public health, offsetting the expense of reducing emissions.