IPCC WG1 AR6 SPM Report Cover - Changing. Credit: Alisa Singer / IPCC
On August 9 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the first report in its sixth assessment cycle – the only one to be published before COP26 in November– focused on the physical science of climate change.
Our webinar, held on Tuesday 10 August, featured presentations from lead authors of the report, who unpicked key findings and the science behind them. It also included reflections by panellists representing vulnerable countries and civil society.
Starting with an overview of the IPCC process, speakers outlined the policy implications of the report, especially for COP26, and highlighted the now unequivocal fact that human activity is changing our climate.
This is combined with improved understanding of the climate system: some of the changes we have already seen, especially when it comes to the ocean and cryosphere, are irreversible for centuries or even millennia, so we can expect to see further melting of ice caps and glaciers, as well as sea level rise. There is also greater certainty on what our actions mean for future climate change – though that future is largely for us to decide.
The panel reflections highlighted the broader implications of the report, including the critical need to keep warming below 1.5°C to ensure the survival of the most world’s vulnerable countries, the narrowing of the window to do so, and the need for the largest emitters to rise to the challenge.
If we rapidly reduce emissions in the next 10 years, and get to net zero by 2050, we still have a good chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C
But there is cause for optimism: one key message was that if we rapidly reduce emissions in the next 10 years, and get to net zero by 2050, we still have a good chance of limiting warming to 1.5°C. Many countries have set targets in line with this ambition – but many more need to do so, and before November’s climate negotiations.
CONSTRAIN will be providing further resources in the coming months to support understanding of key climate concepts in the run-up to COP26.
In the mean time, you can access our briefing notes on how likely we are to reach 1.5°C warming in the near future, and what exactly is meant by a 1.5°C pathway.
Dr Adelle Thomas – Senior Caribbean Research Associate, Climate Analytics
Professor Piers Forster – Director, Priestley International Centre for Climate, University of Leeds
Professor Malte Meinshausen – Director, Climate & Energy College, The University of Melbourne
Tina Stege – Climate Envoy, Marshall Islands
Kaisa Kosonen – Climate Policy Adviser, Greenpeace