Clicky

Shipping News and Reviews

Four important findings from the IPCC climate report

The disastrous effects of man-made climate change may never have been more evident than this summer as scorching heat waves, record droughts and deadly floods tore the world apart.

This is just the beginning of an expert-predicted deterioration in the situation, according to the first new assessment in seven years by the United Nations-affiliated Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC]. The report released on Monday is a stark compilation of the latest research on climate change. It describes how profoundly man has changed the climate and what the future could look like if the harmful CO2 emissions continue on their current path. However, the report also outlines a brighter future, where the political will to create a low-carbon future could contain runaway temperatures and limit the worst harmful effects.

The disastrous effects of man-made climate change may never have been more evident than this summer as scorching heat waves, record droughts and deadly floods tore the world apart.

This is just the beginning of an expert-predicted deterioration in the situation, according to the first new assessment in seven years by the United Nations-affiliated Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [IPCC]. The report released on Monday is a stark compilation of the latest research on climate change. It describes how profoundly man has changed the climate and what the future could look like if the harmful CO2 emissions continue on their current path. However, the report also outlines a brighter future, where the political will to create a low-carbon future could contain runaway temperatures and limit the worst harmful effects.

The report "is a red code for humanity", UN Secretary General António Guterres explained in a statement. "Global warming is affecting every region of the world, with many of the changes becoming irreversible."

Here are some of the key foreign policy lessons from the recent IPCC assessment.

The planet is experiencing almost unprecedented increases in temperature and carbon concentrations, and human activity is the "definite" driver.

Pale temperatures in the Arctic, southern Europe, and the American West are just signs of a stark global trend: people are warming the climate at a rate unprecedented in the past 2,000 years, according to the report. To find the last two high temperature periods like those of the last decade, one has to go back 6,500 and 125,000 years.

This is mainly a function of the huge amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, starting with the industrial revolution but in the last 20th. And that has all sorts of effects, not just on land: the global sea-level rise since 1900 is higher than it has been in any century the past 3,000 years, and the oceans are warming faster than ever in the past 11,000 years.

On the way to deep decarbonization: Countries with net zero commitments account for around 70 percent of today's CO2 emissions, but concrete policy measures to this end are still sufficient. Batteries and hydrogen have emerged as two promising technologies to enable this next stage of deep economic decarbonization. This FP Analytics special report examines the state of technology, investment trends and strategic collaborations driving decarbonization in some of the hardest-to-reduce sectors. Read the report.

With current greenhouse gas emissions, the world will exceed a global temperature increase of 1.5 ° C – the alleged goal of the Paris Climate Agreement – this century. It will even exceed 2 ° C if steps are not taken quickly to reduce emissions to zero. The effects of this half a degree are great, notes the IPCC: At 2 ° C, “compound” events such as fatal heat waves and fatal droughts are more likely in the same place at the same time.

Some of the worst-case scenarios outlined by the IPCC indicate even higher temperature increases of 3 ° C to 5 ° C. But even the mean projections are off the charts for human civilization: the last time temperatures were 2.5 ° C above normal was probably 3 million years ago.

Even if the world takes drastic measures to reduce emissions, many of the worst effects are likely already burned in.

Glaciers will continue to shrink for decades or centuries, regardless of steps taken now. The thawing of the Arctic permafrost, which itself releases a lot of carbon and methane, is “irreversible within a hundred years”, according to the report. Sea levels will almost certainly continue to rise for the rest of the century, with a mean estimate of between 1.4 and 2.5 feet – bad news for Coastal citieswhich often bear the brunt of rising sea levels, especially in terms of infrastructure. Eight of the ten largest cities in the world are located near the coast, and in the United States nearly 40 percent of the people live in coastal areas, where rising sea levels can affect flooding and coastal erosion. Weather events that occurred once a century in the past are now likely to be annual episodes in many coastal locations.

And no matter what measures are taken to limit emissions now, an enormous rise in sea levels is almost guaranteed in the future. "In the longer term, sea levels will rise for centuries to millennia due to the continued warming of the deep oceans and ice sheet melting, and will remain elevated for thousands of years," the IPCC report said.

There are some real black swans out there.

Most of the negative effects of rising temperatures can be more or less predicted depending on how aggressively the planet is reducing emissions. But there can also be nasty surprises – and the warmer it gets, the more of them. "The likelihood of low-likelihood, high-impact outcomes increases as global warming increases," the IPCC report said.

These consequences include things like massive ice sheet loss, forest collapse, or even the tear down the circulatory system in the Atlantic Ocean, which regulates much of the weather and climate in the northern hemisphere. Even without the disaster film scenarios, warmer temperatures are likely to still result in combinations of extreme events that are harsher, longer-lasting, and more widespread than anything “in the observation log,” the report said.

In spite of the darkness all is not lost.

Since there is an almost linear relationship between carbon in the atmosphere and rising temperatures, aggressive measures to reduce global emissions into bones could now limit the temperature rise to around 1.5 ° C in the next few decades. This would also minimize the worst anticipated impacts such as torrential rains and floods and deadly heat waves later in the century, the report said.

Listen to Heat of the Moment: The climate change crisis can feel so dire and disheartening that, instead of mobilizing people to act, it is paralyzing. What could we mortals do to prevent calamity? A good deal, as it turns out. At Heat of the Moment, a 12-part podcast by FP Studios, in partnership with the Climate Investment Funds, we focus on ordinary people around the world who have found ways to fight back.

"The IPCC report underscores the overwhelming urgency of this moment," said John Kerry, US President's Special Envoy for Climate, said politics. "The world must come together before the ability to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is out of reach."

And if the most advanced technologies are widely used – like siphoning carbon from the atmosphere and burying it – some of that temperature rise, if not sea level rise or ice melting, could actually be reversed by the end of the century.

"This report is a reality check" said Valérie Masson-Delmotte, Co-Chair of Working Group I of the IPCC. “We now have a much clearer picture of past, present, and future climates.

“If we can reduce emissions to #NetZero We can keep the temperatures close to 1.5 ° C until 2050. "

Comments are closed.