IPCC Report on the Rapid and Intensified Effects of Climate Change

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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report last August 9 revealing the rapid and intensified effects of climate change. These unprecedented changes, such as rising sea levels, are “irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years.” 

Although sustained efforts to reduce carbon emissions and greenhouse gases can slow down the effects of climate change, it will still take 30 years before global temperatures can stabilise. These findings were presented by the IPCC Working Group I, Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis. Their report is the first instalment of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report 2022 (AR6). 

Rapid Warming 

The IPCC report shows how human activities are contributing to rapid global warming. Global temperatures have increased by 1.1°C since the 1900s, and in the next 20 years, temperatures are expected to exceed 1.5°C. These were based on historical warming data and improved observational datasets, in addition to recent human-caused greenhouse gas emissions studies 

Valérie Masson-Delmotte, IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair, believes that this report is a reality check. “We now have a much clearer picture of the past, present and future climate, which is essential for understanding where we are headed, what can be done, and how we can prepare.” 

However, there is a difference in how people experience climate change in different regions. Each country varies in temperature, and even the Antarctic region may experience higher temperatures compared to the global average. 

How Regions are Affected by Climate Change 

If global temperatures reach 1.5°C, we may experience shorter winter seasons and prolonged summer months. If global temperatures reach 2.0°C, extreme heat will be more often, which may lead to droughts. The human body’s tolerance to hotter temperatures may also take its toll. 

“Climate change is already affecting every region on Earth, in multiple ways. The changes we experience will increase with additional warming,” said IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair Panmao Zhai. 

Co-Chair Panmao Zhai of the IPCC Working Group I reminds us that climate change has affected all regions on Earth. “The changes we experience will increase with additional warming.” Co-Chair Zhai added. 

Countries such as the Republic of Korea, the United Kingdom, and Japan have pledged to achieve carbon neutrality by the year 2050. Amidst the global pandemic, these countries are leading the way to adopt sustainable development goals to address climate change. 

Past and Future Climate were Influenced by Human Activity 

Global greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) have drastically increased over the years and according to a report published by the International Energy Agency (IEA): Forty per cent (40%) of global carbon emissions were from buildings (also including raw materials and their construction). Over the next decade, both private and public sectors have formulated plans on how to decarbonise and invest in renewable energy. 

Human activity has a great impact on global climate conditions. Carbon dioxide or CO2 is still the major factor of climate change, compared to GHG and other pollutants. Mankind’s future actions will determine our global climate’s future course.  

IPCC Co-Chair Masson-Delmotte reminds us that our world’s climate is changing, “The role of human influence on the climate system is undisputed.” He also pointed out that major advances in the science of attribution is helping us understand the intensifying weather and climate events. 

According to IPCC Co-Chair Zhai, achieving climate stability requires a strong response to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sustaining programs to achieve carbon independence. “Limiting other greenhouse gases and air pollutants, especially methane, will benefit both health and climate,” Zhai added. 

If the private sector has developed strategies to lower their high emission activities, the public sector must follow suit and help keep these in check. Local government councils must remember the goal of helping lower global temperatures by 1.5 degrees by 2050. 

 

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Note: Originally scheduled for release in April 2021, the report was delayed for several months by the COVID-19 pandemic, as work in the scientific community including the IPCC shifted online. This is the first time that the IPCC has conducted a virtual approval session for one of its reports. 

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