Three takeaways from the IPCC’s ‘final warning’ report 

Claire Brady
Written by Claire Brady

Tags: climate action Climate Change communications environment IPCC PR

This week has seen the release of the latest IPCC report assessing the climate emergency. For those engaged in this topic, it’s been hard to ignore. And yet, even knowing in advance what it was likely to say did not stop the shock factor. 

As expected, it doesn’t make for easy reading and many people may well despair and disengage with the message. But we believe now, more than ever, we need to engage everyone with this issue.  

To unlock the pace and scale needed to address climate change, we need a big shift in public awareness and attitude. The palpable sense of urgency and action needs to tip over from the margins to the mainstream. We need to create a situation where it becomes impossible for politicians, business leaders and others in positions of powers to ignore the stark warnings in the IPCC report. Only by doing so can we ensure they take rapid action to avert the worst outcomes outlined in the report.  

Despite how it may feel, this isn’t a hopeless situation. Thanks to many brilliant scientific and technical minds, we already have many of the solutions ready to roll out at scale – we just need political will and investment to enable a rapid shift. 

 And we must also recognise the unequal way in which the impacts are already being felt. Vulnerable communities who have historically contributed least to the climate crisis are most affected. It is imperative that we fund climate adaption for those most in need.  

“10% of the wealthiest households contributed up to 45% of global consumption – based household GHG emissions”. 

  1. The results are in: scientists have delivered an alarming verdict and a stark warning 
  • Despite over 30 years of IPCC warnings since its first report in 1990, greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise, and the trend has not been reversed. 
  • Human activity is the primary cause of global heating in the last two centuries. 
  • Temperatures have increased by approximately 1.1 °C above pre-industrial levels. 
  • The goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 °C by 2050 is not being met by current efforts. 
  • The risks associated with climate change are increasing with every temperature increase. 
  • While significant and sustained reductions in emissions can help prevent certain future changes, not all effects of climate change can be avoided. 
  • Over 3 billion individuals currently reside in regions that are at great risk of being adversely affected by climate change. Additionally, half of the world’s population faces significant water scarcity for a portion of each year. 

The impact of climate change is heightening with every temperature increase. While significant and sustained reductions in emissions can help prevent the worst of it, not all effects of climate change can be avoided. 

  • The time to act is now. The window within which we can secure a liveable and sustainable future is closing. 
  • We need rapid change across all sectors and systems.  
  • The decisions and actions we take now will have implications far into the future.  

There is no denying that the current situation is concerning, but there is hope! 

  1. We already have the solutions we need – we just need to roll these out more quickly and at scale. 

We already have multiple solutions ready to be rolled out that can get us well on our way to reducing emissions by up to 50% by 2030. What is even more encouraging is that around 50% of this climate mitigation potential is estimated to be low-cost (less than 20 USD/tCO2-eq), and it may even come with cost savings.

Although there is sufficient capital within the global financial system to address the substantial investment gap that is hindering the implementation of climate technologies and practices, the funds are being channelled towards inappropriate sectors. 

Ensuring that funds are channelled towards the most cost effective and proven solutions will be critical if we want to keep to the desired 1.5°C pathway.  

  1. We need to make it impossible for politicians, investors and other leaders not to take action  

If urgency is the name of the game, then we cannot afford to allow the narrative to be caught up in a polarised debate between climate activists and climate deniers. 

Research has shown that nearly 70% of the population are neither climate activists or climate deniers. They are still ‘persuadable’ by both pro-climate and anti-climate groups’ and we mustn’t overlook this. This group is particularly susceptible to climate misinformation but similarly open to inspiration. 

And it has never been more important for us to positively encourage everyone – especially the persuadables – to take positive action to reduce emissions and to demand this from their politicians, and business leaders. 

It’s our responsibility to change the narrative, to engage as many people as possible with the fact that climate change is not only real but is an urgent crisis the demands action now. 

Research has shown that support for climate action is directly linked to understanding. The challenge now is to engage the wider public in a conversation about the change we need to see, the benefits that come from it and to then take this message to our politicians and business leaders and demand they take action. 

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