GS Paper - 3 (Environment)

The UN-appointed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a new report 9 August 2021 summarizing the latest authoritative scientific information about global warming. The report says almost all of the warming that has occurred since pre-industrial times was caused by the release of heat-trapping gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. Much of that is the result of humans burning fossil fuels coal, oil, wood and natural gas.

Important takeaways

  1. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) 'Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis' said every region in the world is witnessing irreversible changes in climate due to human influence.
  2. The report provides new estimates of the chances of crossing the global warming level of 1.5 degrees Celsius in the next decades, and finds that unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5 degrees Celsius or even 2 degrees Celsius will be beyond reach.
  3. For the first time, the sixth assessment report provides a more detailed regional assessment of climate change, including a focus on useful information that can inform risk assessment, adaptation, and other decision-making, and a new framework that helps translate physical changes in climate into what they mean for society and ecosystems.
  4. Almost all countries have signed up to the 2015 Paris climate accord that aims to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) and ideally no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) by the year 2100, compared to the late 19th century.
  5. The report's 200-plus authors looked at five scenarios and concluded that all will see the world cross the 1.5-degree threshold in the 2030s sooner than in previous predictions.
  6. Three of those scenarios will also see temperatures rise 2 degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial average.

Flashback

  1. Every few years, the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) produces assessment reports that are the most comprehensive scientific evaluations of the state of earth’s climate.
  2. Set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), the IPCC does not itself engage in scientific research. Instead, it asks scientists from around the world to go through all the relevant scientific literature related to climate change and draw up the logical conclusions.
  3. So far, five assessment reports have been produced, the first one being released in 1990.
  4. The fifth assessment report had come out in 2014 in the run up to the climate change conference in Paris.
  5. On 9 August 2021, the IPCC released the first part of its sixth assessment report (AR6). The two remaining parts would be released next year.
  6. The assessment reports are the most widely-accepted scientific opinion about climate change.