IPCC climate report 2022 summary: The key findings
In August 2021, just three months ahead of the climate summit, COP26, in Glasgow, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published its sixth evaluation report. On the 4th of April 2022, the thrid part of the IPCC report has been published. Those evaluation reports presents the most advanced and recent knowledge on global warming and climate change while highlighting the responsibility of humans in the latter. In this article, we will take a look at the main findings in the report.
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We are set to pass the 1.5ºC threshold by 2040
In the third part of the report which was published this last 4th of April, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change gave prominence to three special aspects:
- Use of fossil fuels. This kind of fuel that should be abandoned as soon as possible, as a matter of urgency.
- Changes in out diet habits. The livestock industry is one of the most polluting industries, in addition to all the deforestation involved in its construction and maintenance. To get into a more sustainable diet, is necesary to be willing to reduce the demand for meat and dairy.
- Greener cities. The traditional urban organisation must change as soon as possible towards sustainable and more environmentally friendly urban planning.
For many years now, scientists have been warning about the catastrophic results on the climate if the world reaches average temperatures of 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels. According to the World Research Institute, global temperatures have risen by 1.1ºC so far, and already we are seeing an increase in natural disasters such as flooding, hurricanes, and other events.
The IPCC report 2022 warned that the world is set to reach the 1.5ºC level within the next two decades and said that only the most drastic cuts in carbon emissions from now would help prevent an environmental disaster.
As part of the report, the IPCC set out five scenarios, known as shared socio-economic pathways, in which it highlights the consequences of taking drastic action now and what would happen if no action was taken. Taking the high-carbon pathway, the worst of the scenarios, would see global temperatures rise by more than 4ºC by the end of the century. To add some perspective to that scenario, the world has not seen temperature increases of more than 2.5ºC over such a short space of time for more than 3 million years.
The latest IPCC climate reportThe third volume of the 6th IPCC assessment report that was launched on April 2022, is the result of a collaboration of 270 scientists from more than 60 different countries. This volume is only part of the sixth assessment report. The full version will be published in September 2022.
Humans are the main drivers of climate change
The last time the IPCC published its climate update, there was a link between human activity and climate change. This time, the group concludes they have high confidence that humans are the main drivers behind issues such as more intense heat waves, glaciers melting, and our oceans getting warmer. Studies have shown that events such as the heat wave in Siberia in 2020 and the extreme heat seen across Asia in 2016 would likely not have happened had humans not burned so much fossil fuel.
Indeed the IPCC report 2022 says: “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land”. That should be a stark enough warning to all of us to make the changes we need to in our lives and start recycling, and thinking about using green energy to power our homes, such as solar energy or wind energy.
Upon release of the report, politicians and commentators gave their reaction, none more powerfully than by UN Secretary General, António Guterres, who said:
IPCC Working Group 1 Report is a code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk.
We need to take notice of methane levels
For the first time ever, the IPCC dedicated a chapter in its report to short-lived climate forces including aerosols, methane, and particulate matter. The previous edition of the IPCC report outlined safe levels of methane, of which we have well surpassed at this point. In fact, methane levels, which are largely caused by agricultural farming, oil and gas operations, and abandoned coal mines, are at their highest for 800,000 years.
While much of the discussion of emission reductions focuses on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions - by switching to an electric or hybrid car, for example - methane actually has a global warming impact 84 times higher over a 20-year period. The IPCC report 2022 said more focus must be placed on methane emissions, which would help reverse climate change and improve air quality around the world.
We are close to reaching irreversible tipping points
Drastic cuts in emissions are needed to stop climate change - something we already know and that governments and businesses around the world are already working towards. However, the report warned that if not enough is done, the world is close to reaching tipping points on climate change, meaning that we will have gone beyond the point where the damage can be repaired.
The IPCC report 2022 highlighted two key examples of what could happen:
- Forests could start to die: As temperatures continue to rise, forests could begin to die off. Trees play a key role in absorbing CO2, so if deforestation occurs, and forests stop growing, it would have disastrous consequences on the environment;
- Sea levels will continue to rise: As global warming occurs, ice caps melt at a rapid pace, meaning sea levels rise, and towns and cities around coastal areas are in danger of being swallowed up by the oceans. Research published in the Nature Journal suggests that if nothing is done, sea levels could rise by more than a metre by 2100 and by 15 metres over the next 500 years.
Five tips to limit your impact on the environment
Solving our greatest environmental challenges will require profound changes in business policies and practices. But it turns out that your personal actions can also help. There are solutions you can adopt in your daily life to reduce your personal impact on the environment. Discover 5 ways in which you can limit your ecological footprint:
- Opt for a green supplier: by opting for a 100% renewable energy supplier, you participate in a greener world while saving on your electricity bills;
- Adopt recycling: by giving a second life to your waste, you are actively participating in the ecological transition. Think about recycling all sorts of items, including: glass, paper, cardboard, aluminium, and plastic;
- Reduce your digital footprint: by adopting the right habits, you can limit the carbon footprint linked to the use of your electronic equipment;
- Choose ecological transport: by opting for public transport or an ecological means of transport such as an electric bicycle or an electric car, you can limit the environmental impact of your travels;
- Offset your carbon footprint: by supporting an environmental project like the Gandhi project, you are helping to limit greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.
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- Other IPCC reports
- IPCC Special Report 2018: Global Warming of 1.5°C;
- IPCC Special Report 2019: Climate Change and Lands;
- IPCC Special Report 2019: The ocean and the cryosphere in the context of climate change.