The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is made up of the world’s leading climate scientists, who publish regular comprehensive updates of global knowledge on the climate crisis which is intended to inform government policy making. Each report involves hundreds of scientists reviewing the work of thousands more experts and takes about five to seven years to complete. The current report, which is the sixth since the body was set up in 1988 is being published in four parts, from August 2021 to October 2022, with the first part being released in February. The three working groups that make up the IPCC each publish their own reports. The first part focuses on the physical bias of climate science, the second assesses the effects of climate change and how humanity can adapt to the effects, the third looks at ways of cutting emissions and the fourth report is a synthesis, to be published in October, ahead of the COP27 UN Climate summit to be held in Egypt in November.
What are the main findings from the report?
The report states that every tenth of a degree of additional warming will increase threats to people, ecosystems, and species. Even limiting global warming to 1.5°C which is the global target in the Paris Climate Agreement– is not safe for all. This degree of warming will likely cause glaciers around the world to disappear, 14% of terrestrial species will face high risks of extinction and 350 million people will experience water scarcity by 2030. If warming exceeds 1.5°C, irreversible effects of climate change will occur, such as longer heatwaves and droughts, stronger storms, rapid sea-level rise, more extreme precipitation, and loss of Arctic Sea ice. Overshooting 1.5°C also increases the probability of high-impact events such as mass forest dieback, which would turn carbon sinks into carbon sources.
At least 170 countries’ climate policies now include adaptation, but many have yet to move beyond planning into implementation. The IPCC states that adaptation efforts today are small-scale, with most focusing only on current impacts. The IPCC estimates that adaptation needs will reach $127 billion and $295 billion per year for developing countries alone by 2030 and 2050, respectively. At the moment, adaptation accounts for just 4-8% of tracked climate finance. The good news is that existing adaptation options can reduce climate risks but only if they are sufficiently funded and implemented more quickly. This report analyses various climate adaptation measures effectiveness and potential to deliver co-benefits like improved health outcomes. The assessed climate change adaptation approaches include social programs that improve justice and equity, ecosystem-based adaptation such as integrating trees into farms and increasing crop diversity and lastly new technologies and infrastructure.
The report also mentions soft and hard adaptation measures. Soft measures include vulnerable people and ecosystems beginning to reach limits of what they can adapt to, but political, social, and economic challenges hinder implementation, such as limited access to finance. Others are facing hard limits to adaptation, where climate impacts are so severe that no existing adaptation measures can effectively prevent losses and damages such as coastal communities losing coral reef ecosystems that once helped sustain their food security and livelihoods
How does this relate to the CEE Bill?
In addition to explaining what will happen if we are to exceed our 1.5°C limit of warming, the IPCC report also states how climate change is harming species and ecosystems. Animals, such as the flying fox, seabirds and corals are experiencing mass die-offs, while thousands more have moved to higher latitudes and elevations. The IPCC reports states that maintaining the resilience of nature at a global scale depends on the conservation of 30% to 50% of Earth’s land, oceans, and freshwater. However, today less than 15% of land, 8% of oceans and 21% of freshwater are protected areas, and some regions, like the Amazon, have switched from being carbon stores to carbon emitters.
The IPCC report touches upon the commitments of the CEE Bill as the bill also aims to tackle the ecological emergency by ensuring that the UK Government makes commitments to conserve the natural world by protecting and restoring ecosystems and also makes sure that the government fulfils its Paris Agreement obligations to limit global temperatures to 1.5°C.
The next few years will be crucial if we are to meet our climate targets. This will require immediate efforts to slash emissions, build resilience, conserve ecosystems, and dramatically increase finance for adaptation. The COP27 summit in November 2022 is a crucial opportunity for governments to make progress on all of these fronts. The efforts from governments, the private sector and civil society will be needed as the IPCC report makes clear, there is no alternative and the time to act is now!
How can you help?
In our campaign for the Climate & Ecology Bill, every voice helps. If you’ve not already signed up as a supporter, you can do so here. Contact your MP, meet local campaigners, we need to work together to get this passed. See our campaigners’ hub for more resources on how to help campaign.