The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an intergovernmental body of the United Nations mandated to provide objective scientific information relevant to understanding human-induced climate change. The IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report is the sixth in a series of reports which assess scientific, technical, and socio-economic information concerning climate change. There are three Working Groups that contribute to an assessment report:
- Working Group 1: Assesses the scientific aspects of the climate system and climate change;
- Working Group 2: Assesses vulnerability of socioeconomic and natural systems to climate change, consequences, and adaptation options and;
- Working Group 3: Assesses options for limiting greenhouse gas emissions and otherwise mitigating climate change.
On 9th August 2021, as part of the 6th Assessment Report, Working Group 1 published the ‘The Physical Science Basis of Climate Change’ which focused on the foundational consensus of the climate science behind the causes and effects of human greenhouse gas emissions. The main point that can be taken from the report, is that unless there are “immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach” (IPCC WG1, 2019). The remaining Working Group reports are due for publication in 2022.
Included in the report is a Summary for Policymakers, which is intended to aid policymakers and is already putting pressure on the upcoming COP26 which is being held in Glasgow in October/November 2021. COP26 will be the 26th UN Climate Change Conference which brings the nations of the world together to reach agreement on how to tackle climate change. The 2015 Paris Agreement, an output from COP21, placed 1.5°C on the lower end of temperature targets, however, the 6th Assessment report has clarified that time is running out, stating “Global surface temperature will continue to increase until at least the mid-century under all emissions scenarios considered. Global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century unless deep reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades”. COP26 now has a unique urgency and the world will be watching come October 31st.
The full IPCC Working Group 1 report can be viewed here: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/ and the COP 26 website, which provides news on the upcoming conference can be found here: https://ukcop26.org/.