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IPCC Synthesis Report: “A Survival Guide for Humanity”
On March 20th, 2023, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) published its final synthesis report, summarizing all current knowledge on the climate and its impacts on human societies and ecosystems. A vital scientific research, too often overshadowed and/or ignored, which exposes that the climate emergency is here, and so are the solutions to limit it.
Here are the main lessons of a report that outlines the path we are currently taking and those that we can choose in the years to come.
Let’s start with the current situation. Hold on to your hats!
☝️Human activities have unequivocally caused global warming
Greenhouse gasses emitted by human activities have disrupted and continue to disrupt the climate system. Compared to 1850-1900, the Earth’s surface temperature has increased by 1.1ºC. The oceans are warming up and their capacity to produce oxygen is decreasing. Ice caps are melting. Fires are multiplying. And much more.
🦜 Biodiversity is approaching tipping points
Rising temperatures threaten the survival of thousands of animal and plant species on land and in the oceans, and therefore our own survival.
⚖️ Climate change is deeply unfair
Developing regions, which are often unequipped and have often contributed the least to global warming, are suffering the most from the consequences of climate change – and the social, economic and security challenges it entails. Between 1990 and 2015, the richest 1% of the world’s population were responsible for 15% of carbon emissions, nearly twice as much as the poorest 50% of the world’s population, who were responsible for only 7%.
🌡️ +1.5ºC in 2030
If the current situation does not change, we will reach +1.5ºC of global warming in the early 2030s. Then, if current policies do not change, global warming could reach 3.2ºC in 2100. If greenhouse gas emissions are reduced, it would be possible to limit warming to below +2ºC or even +1.5ºC. Every tenth of a degree more intensifies the risk of environmental disasters.
🩺 Climate change threatens our health
Rising temperatures, disease proliferation, food insecurity, water shortages, forced displacement… Climate change threatens humanity’s physical and mental health – and the most vulnerable first.
👎 Climate investments and promises remain insufficient
Financial and political investment by the world’s governments remains insufficient to limit and adapt to the consequences of climate change.
But the IPCC does not warn without solutions. After a rather chilling assessment of the situation, what tools and solutions do we have at hand?
📌 The obvious
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions now, sharply and sustainably would significantly slow down global warming.
🌬️Abandon fossil fuels and massively develop renewable energies
In the short term, this is the most important level of action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at the global level.
📉 Adopt more sober lifestyles
This means reducing our consumption of planetary resources (energy, water, materials etc). A strong reduction in demand in all sectors could allow a decrease of about 40 to 70% of global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This requires individual behavioral changes such as adopting a vegetarian diet, using sustainable modes of transportation or thermal renovation of buildings which should be facilitated by public and private collectivities.
💰More money in the right place
Investments for the climate must be multiplied by 3, or even 6, between 2020 and 2030 everywhere in the world. Financial resources must particularly reach developing countries to support them in their adaptation to and mitigation of the consequences of climate change, which are all the more urgent.
🛡️Protect and restore ecosystems
Both by human intervention, for example by reintroducing species or diversifying crops, and by non-intervention, i.e. by stopping overexploitation and letting Nature take its course.
And much more...
The solutions are here. They are not unknown or unattainable. All that is missing is the unwavering will of individuals, corporations, businesses and, above all, governments to ensure a livable future.