Final Warning: IPCC report reveals irrevocable damage to planet Earth

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released its "final warning" that urgent action must be taken to mitigate the effects of anthropogenic impact on the environment – what can be done to mitigate these impacts?

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has consistently generated comprehensive reports on the current state of global warming, as well as the efficacy or inefficacy of efforts to address climate change. Recently, they unveiled their highly anticipated 2023 report which issues a stark “final warning” regarding the urgent need to mitigate the devastating effects of human activity on our environment. Indeed, the continued proliferation of greenhouse gas emissions has brought us perilously close to the precipice of irreversible environmental damage.

In response to this sobering report, UN Secretary General António Guterres has emphatically called for a massive and immediate global effort to address the crisis, declaring that the report represents a clear call to action for every nation, every sector, and every timeframe. The time for half-measures has passed; we must pursue climate action on all fronts and with a sense of urgency that befits the gravity of this crisis.

The significance of the report:

This report represents a milestone in the global effort to address the urgent and pressing issue of climate change. Combining the insights and expertise of thousands of the world’s leading scientists, the report distils the latest data and research into a comprehensive assessment of the current state of our planet’s climate. As a result, it has become an unparalleled resource for policymakers around the world, providing critical insights into the reality of climate change and the need for swift action.

Indeed, the significance of these reports cannot be overstated. Widely considered one of the greatest scientific endeavours in human history, the IPCC’s work has galvanized global efforts to address climate change and has helped to spur the development of policies and initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

However, the IPCC’s reporting hiatus has underscored the magnitude of the emergency we face, raising concerns that political action on climate change may jeopardise going forward.  In past years, the IPCC’s reports have served as a benchmark for progress, prompting governments to systematically review and reform their climate policies and targets. Without this critical accountability from the world’s leading scientists, the question remains: will governments be able to step up and regulate their carbon outputs with the urgency and determination required to avert a climate catastrophe?

What are the implications on our planet?

The findings of this report paint a stark picture of the current state of our planet and the urgent need for action to address climate change. Already, over three billion people live in areas classified as “highly vulnerable” to climate risks, and severe water scarcity affects at least half of the global population. The impacts of rising global temperatures have been devastating, including the loss of agriculture, food scarcity, and the destruction of natural habitats and wildlife. Sadly, many of these changes are now irreversible, and future catastrophes are all but certain. The only question that remains is how severe the impacts will be.

Indeed, the authors of the report make clear that we are rapidly running out of time to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all. Temperatures have already risen by 1.1C above pre-industrial levels, and if we continue our current trajectory, we will exhaust the remaining carbon budget before the next IPCC report is even published. The most vulnerable nations, which emit the least carbon, are already feeling the brunt of climate change. Discussions of climate injustice at COP27 resulted in the creation of a loss and damage fund to address the consequences of climate change for these nations. Although this fund will serve to mitigate the impacts of countries facing the brunt of climate change, what is truly needed is accelerated action, to create a world in which these climate impact disparities do not exist.

What are the solutions?

The IPPC suggests that the solution lies in building resilient development, by finding ways to adapt to climate change. The key obstacle to accelerate progress is insufficient funding and misaligned finance, so closing this funding gap is paramount to progress. The IPCC implies that the money to solve climate issues exists, it is simply a matter of removing the current barriers to aligning global purpose by ubiquitously investing in the same solutions.

The World Recourse Institute has summarised these into ten key points to mitigate climate change, these are as follows:

  1. Retire coal plants
  2. Invest in clean energy and efficiency
  3. Retrofit and decarbonise buildings
  4. Decarbonise cement, steel and plastics
  5. Shift to all-electric vehicles
  6. Increase public transport, biking and walking
  7. Decarbonise the aviation and shipping industry
  8. Halt deforestation and restore degraded soils and land
  9. Reduce food loss and waste and improve the agricultural process
  10. Eat more plants and fewer animal products


What is the roadmap going forward?

The roadmap from here to 2030 will be the central discussion later this in Dubai, where global leaders are set to convene for COP28. On the agenda is the first global ‘stocktake’ which will be used to assess a country’s process in reducing emissions in alignment with the Paris Agreement. From there, systematic policy reviews will take place to reallocate finances to the areas that require it the most – namely the ten aforementioned points.

In the meantime, Guterres called on local and regional governments to take drastic action to reduce emissions by investing in renewable energy and low-carbon technology. He advocated that rich countries must take the lead, aiming to reach net zero long before the original 2050 deadline that most have signed up to. If we hope to secure a “liveable and sustainable future for all”, net-zero targets need to be accelerated to be “as close as possible to 2040”.

For further detail, you can read the full IPCC report here.


About the author:

Georgina Murrin is a ESG Analyst in Itriom’s London Office.

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