The IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2021, is out, and things are looking pretty bleak. Here’s a quick rundown of the key points.
The report contains mountains of evidence, unequivocally demonstrating humanity’s disastrous impact on the climate. Many of these impacts will not be reversible for thousands of years. Even if we can reach net zero emissions in the near future, oceans will continue to rise, warm, and increase in acidity for decades or centuries.
Warming below 1.5C, as targeted in the Paris Agreement, is out of reach unless we can dramatically reduce our emissions. The report demonstrated five different emissions scenarios, each of which reached the 1.5C threshold by 2040. In fact, if we fail to make significant reductions now, 1.5C could be reached in a decade.
All corners of the world are projected to experience the disastrous effects of climate change. Europe will see a temperature rise in all areas and an increase in hot extremes; a decrease in cold spells, snow cover, and permafrost; rising sea levels and coastal flooding; and extreme precipitation leading to flooding.
To limit global warming to 1.5C with the least uncertainty, humanity has only 300 gigatonnes of CO2 left to pollute. To put that in perspective, in 2019, global energy-related CO2 emissions reached 33 gigatonnes.
We need to reach at least net zero CO2 emissions, very quickly, to experience the least dramatic climate change scenarios. Other greenhouse gas emissions will also require rapid reductions to secure a safer future. On paper, this is possible; however, reality may tell a different story.
It is now clearer than ever that politicians and businesses need to act. The science is unequivocal, and the time is short.
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