IPCC Report on Climate Change Issues Stark Reminder

IPCC Report on Climate Change Issues Stark Reminder

By | March 22, 2023

On July 22, 2022, the World Economic Forum reported that Europe was already in its third heat wave of the summer—the hottest summer on record for Europe. By then, the related death toll in Portugal and Spain had already exceeded 1,000. Pakistan’s floods of 2022 were estimated to have displaced at least 7.9 million people. Meanwhile, the U.S. experienced 68,988 wildfires in 2022, up from 58,985 in 2021, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. According to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), these and similar events will increase in number and intensity unless immediate action is taken to address the causes of climate change.  

The Final Installment of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report

The Synthesis Report, released on March 20, 2023, is the last in the series of contributions produced in the IPCC’s sixth assessment cycle, and it offers an overview of the knowledge acquired so far on the science of climate change. The contributions to the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) include Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis; Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability; Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change; and three special reports on related topics. Weighing in at nearly 8,000 pages in total, they encompass the knowledge and expertise of hundreds of scientists gathered over an eight-year span.       

The Latest IPCC Report: Immediate Action Is Imperative
The Latest IPCC Report: Immediate Action Is Imperative
If we are to take advantage of this “brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity,” then real action is called for.

The Current Scenario

The average global temperature has risen by 1.1 degrees Celsius (1.9 degrees Fahrenheit) since 1880, with most of the warming occurring since 1975. The impact of this change is visible in several developments that include:  

  • A degree of glacial retreat not seen in 2,000+ years. 
  • A decade (the last one) that’s been warmer than any period over roughly the last 125,000 years. 
  • Sea level rise occurring faster than in any prior century for the last 3,000 years. 
  • Ocean warming at a rate faster than at any time since the end of the last ice age. 

These developments and others like them are most visible in events such as severe heat waves, regional droughts and periods of heavy rainfall, and these events will grow in intensity as the global temperature continues to rise. Malnutrition, harm from wildfire and inland flooding are also among the impacts that the IPCC confidently attributes to climate change, as are mental health problems and human displacement. The IPCC attributes the rise in global temperature to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.    

Global Capital Is the Need of the Hour

The IPCC paints a bleak picture, but it also states that GHG emissions can be reduced through a range of existing options. The aim of these options—set by the Paris Agreement in December 2015—is to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. To achieve this, individuals, governments and businesses must reduce GHG emissions by nearly half by 2030. And significant global capital is needed to reach this goal. 

According to the IPCC, “There are tried and tested policy measures that can work to achieve deep emissions reductions and climate resilience if they are scaled up and applied more widely. Political commitment, coordinated policies, international cooperation, ecosystem stewardship and inclusive governance are all important for effective and equitable climate action.”  

While emissions reduction efforts are essential, so are measures that enable adaptation. The report notes that at least 170 countries and many cities have developed policies and planning processes that promote adaptation. However, existing capital is not sufficient to meet adaptation needs, and this is impeding the implementation of adaptation measures, particularly in developing countries. The World Resources Institute points to the IPCC finding that developing countries “…will need $127 billion per year by 2030 and $295 billion per year by 2050 to adapt to climate change. But funds for adaptation reached just $23 billion to $46 billion from 2017 to 2018, accounting for only 4% to 8% of tracked climate finance.”      

It’s Time for Immediate, Coordinated Action

Scientists have developed global modeled pathways for limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and for limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius. Pathways for both scenarios require “rapid and deep and, in most cases, immediate greenhouse gas emissions reductions in all sectors in this decade.” Immediate action to reduce emissions and a significant infusion of capital are needed with an emphasis on equity, climate justice and social justice, inclusion and just transition processes to ensure sustainability and climate-resilient development.  

The IPCC’s Synthesis Report calls on governments to promote the flow of global capital through policy measures and the elimination of barriers. International cooperation and coordination are necessary. And financial regulators, central banks and investors must also participate. While the work is under way, the IPCC – through the Sixth Assessment Report – provides a compelling science-based argument for an accelerated effort. 

Want to speak with an expert?
Contact Us
The Best of Spark Delivered to Your Inbox
Sphera is the leading provider of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance and risk management software, data and consulting services with a focus on Environment, Health, Safety & Sustainability (EHS&S), Operational Risk Management and Product Stewardship.
Subscribe to Spark
Receive expert content from Sphera about Safety, Sustainability and Productivity.