The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has today published a major study looking at how humans are driving climate change – here’s a look at some of the key points…
What is the report?
The report from United Nations scientists is the first of a series of reports to be published over the coming months about climate change. The report is the first major review of the science around climate change since 2013.
The report provides an assessment of the physical changes such as floods and wildfires that are happening and that are projected to happen as a result of human activity.
What are some of the key facts from the report?
The report shows that human influence has “unequivocally” warmed the climate and that the global surface temperature was 1.09°C higher in the decade between 2011 and 2020 than it was between 1850 and 1900.
According to the report, global surface temperatures will reach 1.5°C above 1850-1900 levels by 2040 under all emissions scenarios, and even if temperature rises were limited to this level there will be an increasing occurrence of some extreme events.
The report concludes with ‘high confidence’ that human activities are the main drivers of more frequent heatwaves, the melting of glaciers and the warming of oceans.
Methane levels are higher currently than at any point in the past 800,000 years – the authors of the report say that a rapid reduction in methane emissions would help curb global warming and improve air quality. Methane is responsible for around a quarter of global warming – it is released into the atmosphere from farming, gas operations and abandoned coal mines.
What has been said about the report?
The UN Secretary-General António Guterres has said that the report is a “code red for humanity”, adding;
“If we combine forces now, we can avert climate catastrophe. But, as today’s report makes clear, there is no time for delay and no room for excuses. I count on government leaders and all stakeholders to ensure COP26 is a success.”
The report presents a concerning outlook but states that there is hope if action is taken now. The warnings in the report come ahead of the COP26 global climate summit, which is being held this November.
Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg responded to the report by saying it contains “no real surprises”. In two tweets, Thunberg said;
“The new IPCC report contains no real surprises. It confirms what we already know from thousands previous studies and reports – that we are in an emergency. It’s a solid (but cautious) summary of the current best available science.”
“It doesn’t tell us what to do do. It is up to us to be brave and take decisions based on the scientific evidence provided in these reports. We can still avoid the worst consequences, but not if we continue like today, and not without treating the crisis like a crisis.”
Caroline Lucas, the only Green Party MP in the UK Parliament said;
“We’re in danger of going down in history as species that chose to monitor its own extintion rather than taking urgent steps to avert it. The #IPCC has produced climate reports for over 30 years – each sounding alarm bell more loudly. Time to act is now”
Responding to the report, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said;
“Today’s report makes for sobering reading, and it is clear that the next decade is going to be pivotal to securing the future of our planet. We know what must be done to limit global warming – consign coal to history and shift to clean energy sources, protect nature and provide climate finance for countries on the frontline.
“The UK is leading the way, decarbonising our economy faster than any country in the G20 over the last two decades. I hope today’s IPCC report will be a wake-up call for the world to take action now, before we meet in Glasgow in November for the critical COP26 summit.”
The full report can be accessed on the IPCC website.