IPCC AR6 an urgent warning to decarbonise now
Article | 5 minute read
The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently published the Synthesis Report of the Sixth Assessment Report. Ultimately, the warning from the IPCC is that the pace and scale of global action is insufficient to tackle climate change.
That is the science.
And that is momentous.
The findings show we are not on track to limit warming to 1.5C. The impacts are already here, with more intensive flooding, drought, fires, food and water insecurity, and so much more.
Despite the progress made in adapting to the effects of climate change, such as changes in weather patterns and its impact on ecosystems, the report notes that gaps in adaptation continue to exist. The IPCC also notes that mitigation policies addressing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have expanded since AR5. However, the report states that global GHG emissions have continued to rise. The nationally determined contributions (NDCs) updated in October 2021 suggest that, in all likelihood, the temperature increase will exceed the 1.5C threshold. Additionally, finance flows fall short of the levels needed to meet climate goals in all sectors and regions globally.
We have known for some time now that if we delay any further and go to 2C or 3C above pre-industrial levels, the impacts are even more severe:
- A third of the world’s population would be regularly exposed to severe heat, leading to health problems and more heat-related deaths.
- Almost all coral reefs would be destroyed, and the Arctic Sea ice would melt entirely at least one summer each decade. This would have devastating impacts on the wildlife and communities they support.
- The possibility of irreversible ice sheet loss in Greenland and the Antarctic, leading to several metres of sea level rise.
This latest IPCC warning is devastating and it can be very easy to fall into climate grief, but there is still hope. If we use this warning to move forward, urgently and together. For positive change. We can hold fast to our collective purpose to care for te whenua (the land), te mana (our prestige and pride), and te mauri ora (all things living). There must be coordinated action.
Toitū clients have reduced 8.4 million tonnes of emissions since 2001. And with over 800 clients, we are seeing a rising commitment from businesses fighting for a better future.
These businesses are leading and guiding positive change in our carbon and environmental programmes based on science and backed by evidence to help them be more sustainable, identify hotspots to reduce their carbon footprint, and regenerate the environment. We see businesses meeting legislation and working towards transparency and authentic action, so that investors and consumers can make an informed choice about products and services they can trust.
The IPCC noted that some changes are already irreversible and, in fact, that the likelihood of abrupt and/or irreversible changes increases with higher global warming levels. Which is why we believe deep, rapid, and sustained reductions in GHG emissions are required to limit the risks of such changes.
Toitū’s members are not just looking at the pathway to net zero by 2050, but running confidently, setting new records, and carrying others with them. We’ll only win this race when the last of us crosses the finish line.
Join our collective race to zero and mark progress with us.
Find more on aiming for 1.5C and not 2 or 3C here: Worlds Apart (ipcc.ch)
Read our Impact Report for last year here: https://www.toitu.co.nz/about-us/our-sustainability