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Key takeaways for business from the IPCC climate change report

By Josh Dominguez
10th August 2021

“It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land.”

On 9th August 2021 The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (The IPCC)  released the first of four parts of its Sixth Assessment Report, which has been 8 years in the making.

“This IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report  represents the most comprehensive report on climate change in the UN’s history. Based on the most up to date scientific evidence, it shows that climate change is here, and getting worse faster, posing an immediate threat. Later this year, the IPCC will publish its reports on the impacts, adaptation and mitigation of climate change, based on the physical scientific evidence presented in the report published today.

We have listened but not acted to prevent the threat from climate change in the past; these reports underline the urgent need for governments, companies, investors and communities to take immediate action to reduce carbon emissions.”

-Alison Mungall, Expert Reviewer to the Sixth Assessment Report, and Compliance Director at Carbon Intelligence

 

First things first – what is the IPCC?

The IPCC was created to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments on climate change, its implications and potential future risks, as well as to put forward adaptation and mitigation options. The IPCC is made up of the world’s leading experts who volunteer their expertise and time to provide all levels of governments with scientific information that inform the development of climate policies.

 

IPCC Report – AR6 Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis

The report addresses the most up-to-date physical understanding of the climate system and climate change. It paints a bleak picture and in no uncertain terms doubles down on climate science that makes a grave call to arms of governments around the world to drastically change course. 

It’s significant that the report comes just a few months ahead of COP26, hopefully the report will become another useful tool negotiators can use to extract more ambitious commitments.

The remaining chapters of the IPCC’s sixth assessment report, including detailed assessments of how the world can mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to worsening climate impacts, are due to be published in 2022.

 

The report covers a lot (the full report spans 1,300 pages!), and while bleak, the high-level takeaways seem to be:

  • Without change, the earth’s surface temperature limit of 1.5C warming from pre-industrial levels will ‘more likely than not’ be broken between 10 and 20 years from now. This will move us closer to an irreversible tipping point.
  • There’s a high likelihood that sea levels will rise 2m by 2100, nearly tripling compared with 1901-1971.
  • This is the first IPCC report to place total responsibility of human activity on rising temperatures.
  • From 2011-2020 the earth’s temperature was 1.09C higher when compared to 1850-1900.
  • We have seen the consecutive hottest five years on record since 1850.
  • Scientists can say with 90% certainty that human influence has driven the global retreat of glaciers since the 1990s and the decrease in Arctic sea-ice.
  • Scientists are almost certain that since 1950, current weather and climate extremes (frequency and intensity) in every region across the globe, including heat waves as in Greece, North America, or floods in Germany, China and the UK, can be attributed to human activity.
  • But there’s still hope! Scientists believe we already have everything we need to avoid the impacts of runaway climate change, but that everything depends on solutions moving exponentially faster than impacts.

5 ways for businesses to take climate action

There is no doubt that businesses will be affected by known and unknown climate risks in the near future. Pressure to manage those risks and commit to drastic emissions reductions will magnify as we edge closer to the next climate ‘tipping point’. 

  1. Climate adaptation and resilience: 
  2. Clean energy: 
  3. Clean transport:
  4. Nature based solutions
  5. Climate finance
    • Implement carbon pricing
    • Incorporate net zero aligned investment strategies

How Carbon Intelligence can help

The planet is heating up – but by how much will be up to us.

We are committed to supporting organisations to understand and reduce their emissions in line with climate science, engage their people and create long lasting system change that will turn climate ambition into action. The countdown is on, don’t wait to act. Contact us today to see how we can support info@carbon.ci. 

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