The Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in its third part of the Sixth Assessment Report delivered a dire assessment and warning.
What is the IPCC?
Set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the IPCC does not itself engage in scientific research. Instead, it asks scientists from around the world to go through all the relevant scientific literature related to climate change and draw up the logical conclusions.
- The Assessment Reports, the first of which had come out in 1990, are the most comprehensive evaluations of the state of the earth’s climate. The four subsequent assessment reports came out in 1995, 2001, 2007 and 2015. These have formed the basis of the global response to climate change.
- In 2021, the Sixth Assessment Report was released, the first part was released in August 2021, the second part was released in February 2022, and now in April 2022, the third part has been released.
- The first part of Sixth Assessment Report flagged more intense and frequent heat-waves, increased incidents of extreme rainfall, a dangerous rise in sea-levels, prolonged droughts, and melting glaciers — and said that 1.5 degrees Celsius warming was much closer than was thought earlier, and also inevitable.
- The second part warned that multiple climate change-induced disasters were likely in the next two decades even if strong action was taken to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases.
What did the report observe?
- The report found that over the past decade, emissions have continued to rise. Average annual global greenhouse gas emissions in the decade of 2010-19 were at their highest levels in human history.
- It also found that the rate of growth of emissions has reduced, and evidence suggests that the proliferation of policies and laws is having an impact.
- No amount of climate action after 2030 will be good enough to limit the rise in global temperatures within 1.5 degrees Celsius, if the emissions’ pathway is not altered significantly in the next few years. Even the 2-degree Celsius target, in that case, would rely on “rapid acceleration” of climate actions after 2030.
- The report also pointed out that reducing emissions from the energy sector required a major transition, including a substantial reduction in overall fossil fuel use, deployment of low-emission energy sources, switching to alternative energy carriers, and energy efficiency and conservation. Therefore, all coal-fired power plants, without the technology to capture and store carbon (CCS), need to be shuttered by 2050 if the world aspired to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.