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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Understanding climate change from the IPCC report

The United Nations (UN) created the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as a scientific organisation to track and evaluate all international research on climate change. Various facets of climate change are the emphasis of each IPCC report.

Olumide Idowu
Olumide Idowu

The IPCC’s Sixth Synthesis Report is the most recent one. It incorporates findings from all of the reports in the IPCC’s sixth assessment cycle, which covered the most recent advances in climate science, the dangers posed by climate change already in progress, and what can be done to reduce future temperature increases and the risks they pose for the entire planet.

What should I be aware of about the newest IPCC report?

This synthesis report contains some encouraging information. Low-carbon technology advancements have shown promise. In order to cut their emissions and aid people in coping with the effects of climate change, countries are taking on more ambitious national commitments. We are also witnessing increased financial commitments for all of this effort.

The issue is that it’s still insufficient. It is unlikely that the world will be able to keep global warming below 1.5°C over pre-industrial levels, which scientists believe is necessary to prevent the worst effects of climate change, even if every nation fulfils its present climate obligations.

Additionally dispersed and neglecting some of the most vulnerable communities are the current adaptation initiatives. And if the planet warms enough, some ecosystems may experience irreversible changes, which would be disastrous for the people and wildlife that depend on them.

Then, is there any hope?

Yes. Despite the fact that climate change is now here and affecting our planet in both significant and subtle ways, our future is not predestined. The frequency and severity of heatwaves, storms, floods, and droughts are only a few examples of the effects of climate change that will be significantly impacted by every fraction of a degree of warming. This means that every step we take to prevent future warming has a significant impact, especially for vulnerable groups worldwide.

In order to quickly transition to clean energy and achieve “net zero” emissions, we need more ambitious global climate commitments. Additionally, as evidenced by the IPCC assessments, we’ll need to remove some of the carbon that’s currently there in the atmosphere in addition to cutting back on emissions. Fortunately, photosynthesis is a potent technology that was developed by nature to accomplish this. Naturally, plants take up carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the soil and roots.

We need to phase out fossil fuels and save the billions of tons of “living carbon” that are stored in the world’s ecosystems. We can also contribute by managing working areas differently so that they store more carbon, such as farms and timber forests, and by reestablishing natural habitats on degraded or cleared land.

What can we do to halt global warming?

A global issue like climate change necessitates global responses. In addition to new national policies and economic transformations, it will call for movement development and direct action. Here are some actions that communities, businesses, governments, and can take.

Communities: Without the leadership of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, we cannot achieve effective action in the battle against climate change. These groups are among the most significant stewards of the world’s living carbon since the deforestation rates on the lands they own or administer are frequently substantially lower than those of government-designated protected areas.

In actuality, 80% of the world’s surviving biodiversity and 17% of the planet’s forest carbon are supported by lands that are maintained by indigenous people. Governments must formally acknowledge Indigenous people’s rights to land and resources, and financing for climate action should include support for their communities in order to enable them to continue playing this important role.

Governments: To reduce emissions and remove more carbon from the environment, all nations – especially the wealthy ones that produce the most emissions – must develop more ambitious climate action plans and implement them. This can be accomplished by investing more in nature in addition to reducing the usage of fossil fuels. The IPCC calculates that the adjustments to agriculture, forestry, and other land use necessary to reduce emissions would cost around $400 billion.

Although it seems like a lot, the government subsidies these sectors already receive are greater. What’s best? Many of these eco-friendly climate change solutions also benefit society in other ways, such as by enhancing air and water quality, increasing food production, and preserving the variety of wildlife on which we all depend.

Businesses must first and foremost commit to achieving net-zero emissions in their operations – they must stop adding extra carbon to the atmosphere – just like national governments. Switching to clean energy sources is the most straightforward approach to accomplish this. The switch to renewable energy offers a low-cost, low-carbon, and low-conflict way to meet the world’s energy needs without endangering the environment or local residents.

Airlines are one industry that will find it difficult to reduce emissions today. These industries should look for ways to lessen their influence. Carbon markets are one method to accomplish this. With the help of carbon markets, companies and other polluters can buy “offsets” for their unavoidable emissions, which pay to preserve or restore natural lands that would have otherwise been destroyed.

The solution to the climate catastrophe is not about what works on paper, but about what works in practise. There is no time to spare on ill-advised solutions.

By Olumide Idowu, Co-Founder/CEO, International Climate Change Development Initiative (ICCDI), @OlumideIDOWU

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