What is the IPCC climate change report and what does it tell us?
What is the IPCC report?
The IPCC is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. The IPCC report is written by 270 leading climate scientists from 67 countries. The scientists review thousands of climate papers over 5-7 years and compile their findings to produce a report that governments can then use to develop climate policies.
The first IPCC report published in August 2021 looked at how the climate is being changed by human activity. The latest IPCC report focuses on climate impacts, vulnerability, and how we need to adapt to these changes.
What does the report say?
The report isn’t an easy read. It reiterates what we’ve known for a long time – that the world is facing devastating and cascading risks from a worsening climate crisis. Whereas the previous report focused on the drivers behind climate breakdown, the findings from the latest report look more closely at impact and are broken down into the following key areas:
Extreme events: We’ve already seen some extreme climate events and conditions such as heatwaves, droughts, floods, storms, and fires. These will result in “compound and cascading” effects on agriculture, water resources, lives, livelihoods and infrastructure. These are projected to increase in magnitude and frequency.
Rise in sea levels: 1 in 10 people on the planet will be at risk from the dangers of sea-level rise.
Tipping points: If global temperatures increase by more than 1.5 degrees, even if the temperature is brought back down, there is a severe risk of breaching "tipping points" which we can’t reverse.
Vulnerability: Over 40% of people, almost all from the Global South, live in highly climate-vulnerable countries. The report outlines that marginalised groups – women, the elderly and children in low-income households, Indigenous Peoples and minority groups, small-scale producers and fishing communities – are most at risk.
Ecosystems and biodiversity: We’re witnessing the first climate-driven extinctions. In biodiversity hotspots, 24% of species will be at very high extinction risk at 1.5 degrees of heating. For endemic species, this could raise to 84% of species at very high risk of extinction in mountain regions, and 100% of species on islands.
Food and water: Hundreds of millions of people, especially in Africa, Asia, Small Islands, Central and South America, and the Arctic are being impacted by stresses on food systems. 10% of current livestock and crop areas may become unsuitable by 2050, rising to 30% by 2100.
Is there any good news?
It’s important to remember the report also tells us that realistic solutions already exist if we act now.
While there’s no escaping the seriousness of the report’s findings, it’s far from "game over". The report concludes that realistic solutions exist, and that they must be equitable and based on the principles of climate justice.
We have a vision for a future that is safer, more just, and sustainable, and that vision is still within reach.
Millions are already facing the destructive consequences of a warming world. We must take action. A major way we can do this is by urgently stop using fossil fuels and move to renewable energy. People here in the UK have been hit particularly hard by the gas price crisis because of our overreliance on gas. We need a rapid move to cheap renewable energy to cut emissions, create green jobs and kick our expensive reliance on gas.
Rachel Kennerley, our International Climate Campaigner, says: "the time for reality checks is long gone: we have the answers and means to step back from the brink of climate catastrophe. It starts with an immediate end to the age of fossil fuels and ramping up the shift to renewable energy with all of the governmental support to see that crucial transition through."
What can I do?
Join Friends of the Earth and help:
- grow our grassroots network
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- pressure decision-makers to take climate action.