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Climate crisis: 6 key messages from the IPCC Synthesis Report brings together five years of research in climate science

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its Summary Report (SYR) on 20 March 2023. It summarizes the findings of six reports published during its sixth assessment cycle  the 2018 1.5 C report, the 2019 Special Reports on Land and Oceans and three evaluation reports published between 2021 and 2022.

SYR is introduced in the wake of major global upheavals caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the subsequent global energy crisis.

It also follows on from remarkable proceedings at the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Egypt last year, where a loss and damage fund for climate victims was drawn up and discourse on issues such as fossil fuel phasing out. and reforming the global financial system.

Here are six key messages from SYR’s Summary for Policymakers (SPM).

1. Excessive emissions from human activities increased global temperature by 1.1°C over 1850-1900

Human activity has “unequivocally” caused global warming, the IPCC says, with global net anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reaching 59 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (GtCO2e), 54 percent higher than in 1990.

This has warmed the land and oceans by 1.1°C, as observed in the period 2011–2020, compared to the period 1850–1900. Contributions varied by country and income group, with approximately 35% of the world’s population living in countries that emit more than 9 t CO2e per capita, while 41% live in countries that emit less than 3 t CO2e.

2. Current policy measures will lead to a further rise in temperature and the impacts on humans and other life forms will be more severe

Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) announced by countries by October 2021 make it likely that warming will exceed 1.5°C during the 21st century and will make it more difficult to limit warming to below 2°C.

With each increment of global warming, climate extremes will become wider and more pronounced. The absorptive capacity of land and oceans to absorb CO2 is likely to decrease, ocean acidification is likely to increase, and compound heat waves and droughts are projected to become more frequent.

When tipping points are reached, some irreversible changes in the climate system may occur, such as the loss of glaciers in Greenland and West Antarctica. Adaptation options may reach their limits of feasibility, leading to greater loss and damage.

3. At current emission levels, we will exhaust the remaining carbon budget

It is estimated that we have about 500 Gt of CO2 left in the carbon budget as of early 2020, with a 50 percent chance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C. This is likely to be exhausted if annual CO2 emissions between 2020 and 2030 remain on average at the same level as in 2019, the report said.

4. We must urgently reduce greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors, within this decade and not later

To reach the 1.5°C target with a 50 percent probability, we need rapid and deep, and in most cases immediate, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions across all sectors this decade.

Greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 43 percent by 2030 compared to 2019 levels, and CO2 emissions must be reduced by 48 percent. This must be accompanied by the achievement of global net zero CO2 emissions by the early 1950s.

Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies can be deployed to reduce temperatures if 1.5°C is exceeded, but come with “feasibility and sustainability and social and environmental risks” when deployed on a large scale.

5. We have all the solutions we need to transition to low-carbon economic systems

We need deep systemic changes in all economic sectors to permanently reduce emissions. Some of these include large-scale electrification, diversifying energy production to include more wind, solar and small hydro, deploying more battery electric vehicles, and conserving and restoring forests while reducing tropical deforestation.

The good news is that feasible, effective and inexpensive options for mitigation and adaptation are already available, with some differences between systems and regions.

“Several mitigation options, notably solar power, wind power, electrification of urban systems, urban green infrastructure, energy efficiency, demand-side management, better forest and crop and pasture management, and reduction of food waste and loss, are technically viable. are increasingly cost-effective and generally supported by the public,” the report said.

6. Political commitment and equity are key to enabling this shift – there is enough finance, it needs to be channeled into climate action

Equity is essential for climate-resilient development. “Adaptation and mitigation actions that prioritize equity, social justice, climate justice, rights-based approaches and inclusiveness lead to more sustainable outcomes, reduce trade-offs, promote transformative change and foster climate-resilient development,” the report highlights.

High-income groups contribute disproportionately to emissions and therefore have the highest potential for emissions reductions. Developing countries need technology development, transfer, capacity building and financing to “leap” to low-emission systems and reap the co-benefits.

This can be made possible by political commitment. For sectoral mitigation in particular, regulatory instruments driven by governments can support deep emission reductions; on the other hand, market-based carbon pricing instruments have been less effective.

The report concludes with the crucial statement that “there is enough global capital to close global investment gaps”. We need to overcome barriers to redirecting capital to climate action. The report stresses that accelerated financial support for developing countries from developed countries is essential, with greater focus on grant-based public finance.

Written by: Vaishali Verma

Read Now :<strong>Carbon dioxide concentrations are the highest in at least 2 million years</strong>

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