28. July 2022

IPCC climate report: How can we still get our act together?

On 4 April 2022, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published the third and final part of its Sixth Assessment Report. The new report brings together the work of around 300 scientists from 65 countries. The clear message: the clock is striking 5 to 12. Climate change has long been a reality. The 1.5 degree target is still feasible - but profound, global and, above all, rapid adjustments are necessary to stop climate change.

In the first two parts of the current Assessment Report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) soberly explained that human activities have indisputably led to a warming of the oceans, atmosphere and land areas. With noticeable consequences: Since the fifth Assessment Report, there is clearer evidence of weather and climate extremes in many regions, as well as strong evidence of human influence on them. Their frequency and intensity are very likely to increase in the coming years. Climate change is already having irreversible consequences for oceans, ice sheets and global sea levels.

Specifically, the IPCC estimates that 3.3 to 3.6 billion people worldwide are threatened by the consequences of climate change. According to the IPCC, the regions of West, Central and East Africa, Central and South America, South Asia as well as small island states and the Arctic are particularly at risk. In Europe, four main threats are associated with global warming: heat waves, long droughts with consequences for the food supply, water shortages, heavy rainfall events and flooding due to rising sea levels.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows: Greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise

The third part of the Sixth Assessment Report is now to be understood primarily as an urgent call for action. The IPCC provides political decision-makers with concrete recommendations to stop climate change. The report of Working Group III first shows that emissions are still increasing. Global greenhouse gas emissions peaked again between 2010 and 2019.

One small ray of hope: At least the rate of growth in emissions has slowed compared to the previous decade. At least 18 countries have maintained emission reductions for more than 10 years. Policies and laws to halt climate change or global warming have been consistently expanded in many countries since the last Assessment Report. However, the measures are not yet sufficient: If the targets adopted by the end of 2020 are not strengthened, the climate goals cannot be achieved. An average global warming of 3.2 degrees Celsius by 2100 would then be likely.

According to the experts of the IPCC, only a rapid and drastic reduction of greenhouse gas emissions can still limit warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial era. The Assessment Report shows that for this to happen, global greenhouse gas emissions must peak before 2025 and be reduced by 43 percent by 2030 compared to 2019.

Where can we start to stop climate change

According to the IPCC report, far-reaching changes are needed to achieve the climate goals: Important points of attack are the energy sector, electrification, e.g. in the area of mobility, and alternative fuels such as hydrogen. But also the conversion to climate-neutral buildings, sustainable land use and behavioural adjustments of each individual, e.g. in the form of a lower-meat diet, can have an influence on climate change and stop the warming.

Energy is one of the areas with the greatest potential. Key factor energy transition: A rapid switch to renewable energies and an increase in energy efficiency and conservation is necessary; at the same time, the use of fossil fuels must be significantly reduced.

What means does the IPCC point to in order to limit global warming?

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the right foundation has already been laid: The issue of climate protection is increasingly coming to the fore. Political packages of measures and social pressure have brought about a continuous reduction in the costs of low-emission technologies since 2010. The cost of electricity from photovoltaics and wind power is 85 and 55 percent lower, respectively, and the cost of batteries has fallen by 85 percent. Wind and solar power are now cheaper than electricity from fossil sources in many regions. And electric vehicles are also increasingly able to compete with internal combustion engines.

New directives and laws have fuelled electricity generation using renewable energies and contributed to greater energy efficiency. In general, the IPCC scientists believe that digitalisation – if properly managed – can also make a profitable contribution to reducing CO2 emissions.

IPCC report summarised: Here's how we can stop climate change

According to the IPCC report, stricter political measures, the use of low-cost, low-emission technologies and a gentler approach to mobility are the keys that we can use now to curb global warming and counteract the climate catastrophe. The necessary tools are already at our disposal. According to the IPCC's expert estimate, we can use it to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 70 percent by 2050 and counteract climate change. Now it's up to us: Get started!

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