IPCC Issues Dire Warning on Climate Change: Time Is Running Out

G&A's Sustainability Highlights (03.01.2022)
Mar 8, 2022 10:35 AM ET
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The scientific consensus is that climate change is responsible for warming of temperatures, rising seas as icebergs melt, greater intensity of storms (hurricanes, cyclones, and super rainstorms), and more such impacts on Planet Earth. And according to the experts, humans are primarily responsible for climate change.

How serious are the threats – and how much time do we have to take dramatic steps to slow or offset such calamitous results? Governments around the world participate in and rely on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was created in 1988 to share assessments of climate change challenges with policymakers.

IPCC issues periodic Assessment Reports over a multi-year cycle, with the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) completed in 2014. The first installment of the Sixth Assessment Report, AR6 Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis, was released in August 2021 and included the contributions of Working Group I, which assesses the current scientific basis of climate change.

The second installment, AR6 Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, was released on February 28 in Berlin. This installment included the contributions of Working Group II, which assesses the vulnerability of the world to climate change and options for adapting to it.

The news from this latest report is alarming, to say the least.

Time is running out for more concerted action around the world, says the IPCC, and delays in action will result in missing a “brief and rapidly closing window to secure a livable future.”

Despite efforts to reduce the risks from climate change, global warming is approaching 1.5C (2.7F) and in some regions of the world “climate change resilience” will be impossible. The IPCC’s Working Group II report emphasizes the urgency of “immediate and more ambitious action” to address climate risks, focusing on adequate funding (especially for less developed countries), technology transfer, political commitment, and partnerships.

“The report is a dire warning about the consequences of inaction,” says IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee. “It shows that climate change is a grave and mounting threat to our wellbeing and a healthy planet. Our actions today will shape how people adapt and nature responds to increasing climate risks.”

Dozens of scientists were involved with the Working Group II contributions and the report was written by 270 authors from 67 countries. 195 member governments of the IPCC approved the summary after two weeks of deliberation in February. The comprehensive report, with abundant infographics, links, and 34,000 cited references in 3,675 pages (a 280MB file), lays out the facts for public sector policy makers, business leaders, investors, NGOs, and other stakeholders around the world.

The third and final installment of AR6 is currently scheduled to be released in April, reporting on the contributions of Working Group III, which focuses on climate change mitigation including assessing methods for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Given the alarming report issued by Working Group II, the world will be waiting to see what actions the IPCC recommends to address the clear and present danger presented by the climate crisis.

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