What to anticipate in the final UN climate report and IPCC's role in combating climate change
It's time for a reality check after all the discussion about the urgency of climate action. The newest climate report from the United Nations will be released to the public on Monday. It's a huge one, too.
Behind the scenes, hundreds of scientists have been working hard to construct the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The most recent phase, which started in 2015, has seen the production of a number of studies. But, everything comes together in what is known as the Synthesis Report on Monday.
It will first discuss the causes of global warming caused by greenhouse gas emissions before getting into the effects. There is an emphasis on our weakest points and attempts to change. Then, how are we addressing emissions and reducing climate change?
Collecting all the facts, from every part of the world, is a tremendous job, let alone analysing the research to attain agreement. Since it started, more than three decades ago, the procedure has been repeated several times.
The sixth round of reports is now available. That won't be the last either. Yet now is a key time because we are losing the potential to stop disastrous climate change and control global warming.
Why do we need the IPCC and what does it accomplish? The 195 member nations that make up the IPCC are tasked with creating thorough and impartial analyses of the scientific evidence supporting climate change.
Failure to address climate change is ranked as the top risk for the next ten years globally by the World Economic Forum. Climate change also exacerbates several of the other top ten global hazards, including resource crises, biodiversity loss, severe weather, and human environment harm.
The need to combat climate change is becoming more and more clear to governments, businesses, and communities, particularly when forecasts come to pass.
The scientific community is working very hard to understand the causes, impacts, and remedies. Tens of thousands of brand-new, peer-reviewed climate change research are released each year. There must be a method to extract the most important lessons from this vast collection of scientific data and utilise them to guide choices. Reports from the IPCC do this.
The IPCC process also gives the scientific community a framework for organising and coordinating their activities. Each reporting cycle is accompanied by a global scientific effort in which standard tests are conducted to evaluate the accuracy of the most recent climate models.
According to decisions taken today, many scenarios for how atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations could evolve in the future are included in the tests. How certain we are about the future effects of climate change depends on the range of findings generated by various models throughout these sets of tests.
The fact that scientists and governments collaborate to generate IPCC reports is a crucial component. Each report's summary is discussed and agreed upon line-by-line by the states that make up the IPCC. This procedure guarantees that the reports stay loyal to the supporting scientific findings while also extracting the crucial data that governments want.
What can we anticipate from the report on Monday? All six of the currently cycle's reports will be referenced in the Synthesis Report.
They consist of three so-called "working group reports" on adaptation, vulnerability reduction, and the physical scientific underpinnings of climate change consequences.
In addition, three special reports addressed issues that were specific to these working groups and demanded urgent analyses from governments to help them make decisions. They discussed topics such as 1.5 degree Celsius global warming, climate change, land, the ocean, and the cryosphere in a changing climate.
The overarching themes of this cycle of IPCC reports have never been more obvious. They leave no space for argument against global warming driven by humans or the imperative need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions this decade. The report on Monday should have headlines that are just as bold and distinct.
What changes have IPCC reports made? Examining IPCC reports over the previous 33 years reveals how our knowledge of climate change has advanced. "The definitive identification of the amplified greenhouse effect from measurements is not probable for more than a decade," the original study from 1990 noted. There is beyond a doubt that human activity has warmed the climate, ocean, and land, according to the evaluation made in 2021.
The rate of change has sometimes wildly surpassed predictions. West Antarctica was a place of worry in 1990, but it was not anticipated that there would be significant ice loss in the next century. Yet, by 2019, our measurements suggest that West Antarctica's glaciers are fast disappearing. This has aided in the global sea level rising more quickly.
There are also growing worries about the integrity of portions of the East Antarctic ice sheet that were previously believed to be shielded from climate change driven by human activity.
This exemplifies how IPCC assessments often understate the strength of the available scientific evidence. Those attempting to postpone climate change action often accuse climate scientists of being alarmist, yet the reverse is really true.
Statements in the report summaries are supported by several lines of scientific evidence since the IPCC reports are produced by consensus with countries. This may lag behind current climate science findings.
Next, what? Planning has already begun for the IPCC's next assessment cycle, which will start in July of this year. It is envisaged that the next round of studies will be ready in time to inform the 2028 Global Stocktake, which will evaluate the Paris Agreement's success.
It has been a difficult sixth evaluation cycle. Scientists have increased their dedication to collaborating with governments to provide the accurate and reliable information needed.
Preparing and reviewing reports in the midst of a pandemic added to the difficulties. The addition of three special reports in addition to the customary three working group reports had the same effect.
There is now no question that climate change is being caused by humans. Future IPCC reports are being urged to evaluate rapidly evolving scientific fields more effectively and to cut across working groups as a result of this. Instead of continually dividing them into separate working group reports, this would include analyses of the causes, consequences, and solutions for important areas of climate change in one report.
The IPCC's formation indicated that climate change was a significant worldwide issue. Notwithstanding this acknowledgement from more than three decades ago and the progressively alarming findings issued during this period by the IPCC, annual increases in global greenhouse gas emissions have persisted.
There is a slim chance that the peak of global emissions is approaching, however. Global climate action may have finally begun to shift the globe onto a more sustainable course by the time the next IPCC reports are published.
Only time will tell. We can only hope that decision-makers will side with science and history's righteous side.