IPCC Report – a Wake Up Call. On August 9, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a landmark report stating that the climate is changing in unprecedented ways; human influence is clearly responsible for many of these changes; and catastrophic events will happen in the future if greenhouse gas emissions are not sharply reduced. Here is more information about the report and comments on it by Christiana Figueres, a former town resident and an internationally recognized leader on climate change.
The IPCC Report: Climate Change Is Widespread, Rapid, and Intensifying
On August 9, 2021, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a comprehensive summary of current knowledge on climate change. The report, bringing together the latest advances in climate science, draws on 14,000 studies and involved 234 authors from 66 countries. Results are based on improved datasets used to assess warming trends and on advances in scientific understanding of the ways that climate systems worldwide respond to greenhouse gas emissions caused by human activity.
Conclusions from the report’s Summary for Policymakers (PDF) include these:
- “It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land.”
- “Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region of the globe.”
- “From a physical science perspective, limiting human-induced global warming to a specific level requires limiting cumulative CO2 emissions, reaching at least net zero CO2 emissions, along with strong reductions in other greenhouse gas emissions.”
The report makes clear that human actions still have the potential to determine the future course of climate, but there is no time for delay. Commenting on the report, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called it “…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.”
Comments on the IPCC Report from Christiana Figueres
Many Grovers knew Christiana Figueres and her family when they lived in town. Since then, she has become an internationally recognized leader on climate change. As Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change from 2010 to 2016, she focused on rebuilding the global climate change negotiating process, working with a wide range of stakeholders to deliver the historic 2015 Paris Agreement. As a co-founder of Global Optimism, author, and podcaster, she continues to inspire urgency and achievement in the global response to climate change.
Here are excerpts from Christiana’s article of August 10 responding to the IPCC report (some sections have been omitted for the purpose of brevity.)
“Danger of irreversibility. This is the big message from Monday’s new IPCC report. We’re reaching irreversible tipping points that will lead to drastic changes in ecosystems with devastating effects for all life on this planet. This report is yet another wakeup call and it is finally time for a different response.
“For some time now, many of us focused on solutions to the climate crisis have worked on the basis that if we keep going in the right direction: away from fossil fuels, away from industrial agriculture, away from mindless consumption and decisively towards clean energy, regenerative farming and a circular economy we’d be able to pull back from some of the dangers in front of us. But the damages are coming much quicker than we thought. The curve of impacts is increasing exponentially, taking us dangerously near irreversible shifts in ecosystems. We have not yet matched that curve with equivalent speed and scale in all the solutions we need.
“The IPCC is clear: significant and decisive reductions in emissions would limit climate change. We must achieve this. This unique moment in history is all about breaking boundaries. We know we have already broken, or are about to break, many of the planetary boundaries that keep us safe. In light of the stark warning from the IPCC this week – and indeed from nature herself – the correct response must be to break through the mental boundaries that are now preventing us from doing what is necessary: exponentially scaling all solutions and stopping emissions from entering our atmosphere. We are going to have to pull out, from deep within ourselves, extraordinary strength, and endurance now. We have to go far beyond what we think we can achieve, at speed.”
— In Stubborn Optimism, Christiana Figueres
The Sustainability Committee is working on ways the Grove can meet this existential challenge; we hope you will join this generational effort.