The recently released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) AR6 Synthesis Report on climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability has put the spotlight on the need for immediate and elaborate action to combat the rising effects of climate change. IPCC is an international consortium of scientists convened by the United Nations.
This report has been written by 270 authors along with 675 contributing authors representing 67 countries. It is a summary of 34,000 scientific papers that focusses on the importance of adapting to and mitigating climate change impact in the near future and taking big decisions today to keep the planet habitable in future.
What are the key highlights in the report?
- The impact of climate change is affecting people and planet in a way that makes them more vulnerable than previously predicted. The impact that has already occurred has been disproportionately affecting the more vulnerable people and systems. Climate resilient development needs to happen while considering equity, social justice, inclusion as a priority.
- Net zero emissions are necessary to halt global warming, The rate of climate change in future will depend on the short-term mitigating and adaptation actions. Global warming is likely to reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2035.
- There are irreversible damages that have occurred in the natural world and no amount of effort or investment can help in those areas. However, there are other areas with soft limits where action and policy changes can make a difference. If we don’t change the way we are acting on these warnings, we will shift from the current 1.1°C level of warming to a devastating 3.2°C level by 2100.
- The window to avoid the worst possible impact of climate change is closing fast. Heatwaves, droughts, floods will continue to get worse and these factors are likely to lead to food security risks in many parts of the world. The need for collective global action is at it’s most crucial point.
- Predictions and forecasts regarding climate change impact cannot be fully relied upon as they can be inaccurate and inconsistent. The global aggregate economic impacts of climate change might be higher than expected and may vary significantly on regional levels.
What are the key takeaways?
- There is a need to look at climate action from a dual perspective – dealing with the unavoidable impacts in near future, ensuring net zero emissions to halt global warming, protecting, and restoring natural ecosystems to deaccelerate the impact of climate change in the long run. Compared to 2019 levels, emissions must be reduced by at least 43% by 2030 and at least 60% by 2035.
- We must place climate action at the centre of decision making at a global, national, organizational and individual level. Collaborating and building capabilities to assess and quantify the impact will help in understanding it better and enable concrete action at all levels.
“This synthesis report underscores the urgency of taking more ambitious action and shows that, if we act now, we can still secure a livable sustainable future for all.”
– Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC
“The climate timebomb is ticking. But today’s report is a how-to guide to defuse the climate timebomb. It is a survival guide for humanity. As it shows, the 1.5°C limit is achievable.”
– António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations
Reasons to stay hopeful and positive
- Nations are coming together to acknowledge, address, and act on these warmings and we can see a positive trend in terms of decision making.
- There have been many remarkable breakthroughs in renewables. Solar and wind energy are the cheapest source of new power in many countries, and in the next few years we will witness electric vehicles achieving price parity with their internal combustion engine counterparts.
- In 2021, $755 billion were spent globally on low-carbon energy technologies, a 27% increase from the previous year. While the amount is still much lesser than what is needed to achieve net zero transition, it is a significant growth that needs more acceleration now.
What can businesses do to be a part of the solution?
The nine transformation drivers for the private sector are:
Reducing the use of fossil fuels significantly
Businesses can achieve this by first and foremost eliminating fossil fuels from the company’s operations and encouraging partners, vendors, associates to do the same. Moreover, businesses can measure their indirect carbon footprint in the form of financial institutions that they work with and their involvement with the fossil fuels industry, and sustainability awareness and action among employees. Thirdly, businesses can use their industry alliances and association memberships to influence policies aimed at reducing production and use of fossil fuels and supporting carbon capture and storage related initiatives.
Being accountable for climate commitments
Companies need to set clear and measurable goals for their decarbonisation, regeneration, and circularity related commitments. This can be done by using accurate carbon accounting metrics, developing robust carbon transition plans, and focusing on achieving the company’s net zero targets.
Investing in low and no-carbon energy solutions
Business must invest in energy efficiency measures and in scaling renewable energy initiatives. This can also be done by redirecting the company’s innovation strategy towards regenerative solutions.
Transforming value chains in hard-to-abate sectors
Businesses need to bring transformational changes to production processes, specially the ones that involve emission heavy sectors such as cement and steel. Enabling circular material flows and supporting the electrification of the industry that the company belongs to will go a long way in meeting the industry’s regenerative goals.
Redirecting global finance towards mitigation and adaptation solutions
Businesses can be impactful advocates for policy changes to transform the global financial paradigm and scale climate finance to achieve global mitigation goals.
Using climate technology solutions to limit the overshoot
Developing, using, and promoting climate technologies such as carbon dioxide removal, direct air capture among others will be instrumental in transforming industries such as shipping, aviation, and industrial manufacturing.
Protecting and restoring ecosystems through regenerative practices
Businesses must support and enable ecosystem regeneration through afforestation, reforestation, water use efficiency and other such methods. Transforming the company into a regenerative business will be an essential part of the solution to rapid climate change impact.
Scaling climate resilience and adaptation measures
Business need to take a proactive instead of a reactive approach towards contributing to building climate resilience. Supporting and advocating wide application of regulatory and economic instruments can support climate resilient development in industries and nations.
Ensuring an equitable, inclusive, and just transition
Businesses must focus on driving positive social impact and extend their support towards building an equitable and inclusive net zero carbon economy. Organizations with global presence must strategize their mitigation and adaptation efforts keeping the disproportionate impact of climate change and varying levels of climate accountability at regional level in mind.