The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) is a group of climate scientists from the United Nations representing 195 countries, who create comprehensive reports from published research covering climate science, the impacts of climate change and the actions necessary to minimise the damage. The latest report paints a troubling picture: Climate change is already impacting every corner of the world, and much more severe impacts are in store if we fail to halve greenhouse gas emissions this decade and immediately scale up adaptation.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the report “an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership.”
Key Findings from the IPCC Climate Report 2022
The reports highlight the importance of social justice, urgent climate action, the importance of natural systems and the risks of warming beyond 1.5⁰C, which would occur as early as 2030 and cause devastation to life and humanity unless urgent action is taken.
Summary of Findings on Climate Impacts, Adaptation and Resilience
1. Climate Impacts are harsher and more extensive than previously reported. The number of people now vulnerable to climate change is 3.6 billion (45% of global population) and rising. Widespread impacts to ecosystems, people and infrastructure have resulted from increases in the frequency and intensity of climate and weather extremes, such as floods, droughts, and wildfires.
2. Inequity, poverty and conflict heighten vulnerability to climate risks as the capacities of local and national governments, communities, and the private sector are least able to provide necessary infrastructure and services.
3. The impacts and risks of climate change are escalating quickly and simultaneously compounding irreversible damages across sectors and regions. Warming beyond 1.5⁰C will have serious climate risks. If we allow temperatures to rise by 1.7⁰C or more, half the human population will be vulnerable to life-threatening conditions and extreme climate events. Some impacts of climate change are already too severe to adapt to and the world needs urgent action now to address losses and damages.
4. Safe and practical climate solutions already exist, but we must prioritise climate-resilient development that safeguards the biodiversity of ecosystems and provides support for vulnerable communities to adapt and includes partnerships with marginalised groups like women, Indigenous Peoples and local communities.
Read about WRI’s insights on adaptation and vulnerability here.
Summary of findings on Climate Mitigation
1. This is our last good chance to mitigate climate effects; it’s now or never. Global emissions are still rising and we must halve them by 2030. The solutions we need to reduce emissions and stay below the 1.5⁰C threshold already exist, we just need to implement them systemically. Global emissions need to peak before 2025.
2. We must stop any new fossil fuel infrastructure and concentrate on building renewable energy capacity.
3. We need rapid transformations across all sectors to avoid the worst climate impacts, particularly in land use, food and farming. Halting deforestation and restoring nature has the biggest potential as a climate solution in this sector
4. Reducing energy and material consumption, electrification, and enhancing carbon uptake in the urban environment are going to be important. City planning must incorporate climate-conscious solutions.
5. Changes in lifestyle and behaviours have a significant role to achieve positive climate impact. We must reduce consumption of animal products, utilise public transportation, and upgrade homes to be more energy efficient.
6. Limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C will be impossible without carbon removal. This includes both natural solutions, such as storing carbon in trees and soil, as well as technologies that remove CO2 out of the air and oceans.
7. Government investment and Climate finance for mitigation alone must be 3 to 6 times higher by 2030 to limit warming to below 2 degrees C. IPCC found that finance for fossil fuels still outstrips funding for climate action. The private sector needs clear policy signals from the international community and governments to scale up investments in climate, such as higher subsidies for mitigation, pricing carbon emissions, phasing out finance for fossil fuels, or adopting strong regulations that mandate low-carbon transitions.
8. Nature is a powerful climate solution. It protects at-risk communities from the brunt of climate change, and is powerfully aligned with sustainable development goals like eliminating hunger and providing access to clean water. When we take action to mitigate climate change by protecting nature, we foster global health, resilience and justice. Conservation International has found that many of Earth’s largest and most critical carbon sinks, such as the Amazon rainforest and Congo Basin, overlap with high-biodiversity hotspots. Protecting lands essential for climate stability also conserves habitats for countless wild animals.
Read about WRI’s insights on climate mitigation here.
So what’s the bottom line?
As this latest IPCC report makes clear, keeping global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees C is still possible, but only just. We need to peak global GHG emissions before 2025, halve them by 2030, and reach net-zero CO2 emissions by 2050, and do it fairly across countries and people. As risks and damages from climate change grow rapidly, we cannot afford to miss these deadlines. Governments, civil society and the private sector must all take action and there’s no alternative. The richest 10% of the population cause a disproportionate amount of emissions, so their lifestyle changes can be particularly impactful.
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Detailed research and data on CO₂ and Greenhouse Gas Emissions here