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Latest UN Climate Report says «we must act now»

The new Synthesis Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that «there is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all».

As the leading international scientific body for the assessment of climate change, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has published its latest climate report. The report provides the most important overview of the enormous quantity of analyses on global warming and the climate crisis produced to date. It summarises numerous research initiatives conducted in a single document, and on this basis it is expected to be highly useful to institutions, called to take measures to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis over the coming decades. «Act now or it’s too late», warn the experts. «There is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all».

UN General Secretary, António Guterres, has described the Synthesis Report as a «how-to guide to defuse the climate time bomb. It is a survival guide for humanity. As it shows, the 1.5°C limit is achievable», commented the former Portuguese Prime Minister. In fact, the report underlines once again that in the absence of immediate action, the damage caused by climate change will be irreversible and will have enormous consequences for the planet, but also states that if we act quickly, there is still time to avoid the most catastrophic outcomes of the climate crisis.

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( Jozwiak)

Mr Guterres invited governments to take drastic actions to reduce emissions, investing in renewable-energy strategies and low-carbon-emissions technology, in addition to halting the creation of new coal power plants. «This report is a clarion call to massively fast-track climate efforts by every country and every sector and on every timeframe. In short, our world needs climate action on all fronts — everything, everywhere, all at once», he stated.

The Synthesis Report, published on 20 March 2023, is the final part of the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of the IPCC, the intergovernmental panel established in 1988 to study the climate and scientifically inform international political decisions on climate change. A complete review of scientific knowledge on the climate crisis required eight years of work and hundreds of scientists, gathering all of the key messages from previous reports.

The next IPCC report will not be published before 2030 and therefore AR6 is the scientific guide that should inform the energy transition in this truly crucial decade for the international community and the planet.

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The document reminds us that with current rates of change, it will be impossible to reach the target set to keep the average temperature increase within the limit of 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels. It is estimated that up to now, human activity has led to an average increase of at least 1.1°C. An increasing number of observers consider it will be impossible to remain within the 1.5°C limit and part of the scientific community maintains rather that we should begin acting to avoid exceeding the 2°C threshold.

Expected cumulative future CO₂ emissions, based on the lifespan of existing and planned fossil-fuel infrastructure, bring us approximately to a 2°C scenario (83%) (high confidence). The IPCC document indicates what needs to be done to achieve an immediate reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions: amongst other actions, there needs to be a drastic decrease in the use of fossil fuels, particularly coal, oil and methane, and we must promote the removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, planting trees or directly capturing CO₂.

«Removing fossil fuel subsidies would reduce emissions and yield benefits such as improved public revenue [and] macroeconomic and sustainability performance», maintains the report.

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An infographic from the IPCC Synthesis Report: “The extent to which current and future generations will experience a hotter and different world depends on choices now and in the near-term.”

In addition, all developed countries should bring forward the target of carbon neutrality to 2040, or achieve a zero atmospheric carbon-dioxide emissions balance by removing an equivalent quantity from the atmosphere. The 2015 Paris Climate Agreement set this target for 2050, but the UN believes it needs to be brought forward by a decade. The same applies to emerging economies such as China and India, which have carbon-neutrality targets for 2060 and 2070, respectively.

The Synthesis Report also underlines the tangible damage already caused today by climate change. Amongst other phenomena, it highlights the agricultural crisis due to drought and the increasing frequency of extreme weather events. Furthermore, the effects have been greater than scientists expected with an average temperature increase of 1.1°C. The report notes that economic systems, infrastructure and production sectors across the planet have proved far more vulnerable than expected even to "small" climatic changes.