Professor João Porto de Albuquerque, Director at the Institute for Global Sustainable Development at the University of Warwick, comments on the latest Intergovernmental Report on Climate Change.
IPCC Report: What do we now know, and what can we learn?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading authority on climate, has published its latest report. 234 scientists from 66 countries have utilised 14,000 pieces of research to draw conclusions on how our planet is changing as a result of human behaviour.
In short, the IPCC report represents more than a wake-up call; it is an early red alert and an immediate call to action. Among the key points to be drawn out of the report are the concerns that extreme weather events are on the rise; carbon dioxide levels are at their highest in 2 million years; and changes to ice, ocean and sea levels could be ‘irreversible for centuries’.
Furthermore, the role of humans in the climate crisis is condemned, with our influence on the planet declared “unequivocal”. Current climate goals of 1.5C and 2C are fast becoming unachievable, and no region on earth is unaffected.
Professor João Porto de Albuquerque, Director at the Institute for Global Sustainable Development at the University of Warwick, has shared his thoughts on where, as a population, we go next.
“Our societies and economies need to change, and quickly. The scientific evidence about the human-induced warming has been even stronger than in previous reports, and we are now witnessing unforeseen levels of confidence that the extreme weather events observed in the past decade can be attributed to climate change. There are two crucial and immediate take home messages from the report, which are particularly timely as we head to COP26 in Glasgow.
"First, it is urgent to strengthen action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet the goals set in the 2015 Paris Agreement. The report makes tangible the severe consequences of not reaching the goals. However, it also provides hope that the impacts can be limited, and some warming effects even partially reversed, if immediate and concerted action is taken to reach net zero by 2050. We need to see national governments make clear and transparent commitments in their national decarbonisation plans.
"Secondly, it is now much clearer that extreme weather events are going to occur more frequently and consistently. Recent heatwaves in North America and Greece, along with the devastating flooding caused by extreme rainfall in Germany and China, and even mass flooding in London, lay truth to the claim that no region of the earth remains unaffected. We have to be much more consistent and active in funding and implementing adaptations to the new climatic conditions to avert catastrophes and loss of human lives in the next few years.
"The report predicts increases in heatwaves and extreme rainfall in nearly all world regions and intensification of droughts in some areas. These events will disproportionately impact countries in the global South - which are less responsible for carbon emissions - exacerbating global inequalities. There is an imperative need for governments, researchers, and civil society to work in partnership to co-design pathways to more sustainable futures.”
The report will place further pressure on the UK Government – hosts of COP26 in Glasgow in November – to ensure that the conference results in substantial international co-operation to tackle climate change.
10 August 2021