The new report released today from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said that “climate change is widespread, rapid and intensifying”. I’m just going to let that sink in for a second. Widespread. Rapid. Intensifying. Not what you want to hear.
OK, so who are the IPCC and what is the report? The IPCC are the UN body responsible for assessing the science relating to climate change and 195 countries are members. This report looked at over 14,000 scientific papers and is the most in-depth and up-to-date report of it’s kind since 2013. The findings of this report were signed off by 195 governments after a two-week consultation process.
So what are these findings? Well, one of the most unsettling ones, and one we’ve heard before but not with such high certainty, is that it’s “unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere,ocean and land”. It states that scientists in every region are seeing unprecedented changes across the whole climate system. We are seeing the effects of climate change around the world. The earth is warmer, sea levels are rising and Arctic ice is shrinking. In recent years we’ve seen reports of record levels of floods, droughts, wildfires and temperatures. It tells us that some of these shifts, such as continued sea level rise, are already ‘irreversible’ for centuries to millennia.
Now I did say there was hope, and so far this is sounding pretty scary. The report also states that with “rapid, sustained and large-scale reductions” in emissions climate change will be limited. We need our government and policy makers to take serious action now to try not exceed a 1.5C temperature rise (we’re currently at 1.2C). This means holding the biggest polluters to account, living up to our obligations under various climate accords, urgently stepping up our efforts as a nation and achieving net zero C02 emissions. We need to move to renewable energy sources, eliminate fossil fuels, reduce our waste and move to a circular economy far more quickly. As individuals we need take our own measures, choose more sustainable lifestyles and push our governments to meet their promises.