The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently released its latest report on the state of global climate change. The report contains some alarming information about the status of climate change, its causes, observed changes, impacts, and the challenges we face in mitigating its effects.
Here are the main takeaways from the IPCC report.
Global warming and its causes
Global warming is unequivocally caused by human activities, particularly through the emission of greenhouse gases. This was also found in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) released in 2021. The report is a comprehensive assessment of the current state of climate science, including observed changes, impacts, adaptation, and mitigation measures.
Observed changes and impacts
The report states that global greenhouse gas emissions have continued to increase, with unsustainable energy use, land use, and patterns of consumption and production across regions, countries, and individuals being the primary contributors. The report also reveals that there have been widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, and biosphere, and human-caused climate change is already affecting weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe.
Furthermore, the IPCC report highlights that vulnerable communities, who have historically contributed the least to current climate change, are disproportionately affected. Adaptation planning and implementation have progressed in all sectors and regions, but gaps still exist, and hard and soft limits to adaptation have been reached in some ecosystems and regions.
Current progress in adaptation and gaps and challenges
Regarding mitigation, policies and laws addressing it have consistently expanded since AR5. However, global GHG emissions in 2030 implied by nationally determined contributions (NDCs) announced by October 2021 make it likely that warming will exceed 1.5°C during the 21st century and make it harder to limit warming below 2°C. There are gaps between projected emissions from implemented policies and those from NDCs, and finance flows fall short of the levels needed to meet climate goals across all sectors and regions.
The report highlights the risks of future climate change, with every increment of global warming intensifying multiple and concurrent hazards. Risks and projected adverse impacts and related losses and damages from climate change escalate with every increment of global warming, and climatic and non-climatic risks will increasingly interact, creating compound and cascading risks that are more complex and difficult to manage.
Future climate change, risks, and long-term responses
Adaptation options that are feasible and effective today will become constrained and less effective with increasing global warming. With increasing global warming, losses and damages will increase, and additional human and natural systems will reach adaptation limits. The report also emphasises that limiting human-caused global warming requires net zero CO2 emissions, and the level of greenhouse gas emission reductions this decade largely determines whether warming can be limited to 1.5°C or 2°C.
The IPCC report’s findings indicate that the need for urgent action to mitigate and adapt to climate change is more critical than ever. We must all play our part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to a more sustainable, low-carbon future to limit global warming and reduce the risks of climate change.
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