published on 28 June 2021 in air

Draft of the next IPCC report on climate published

The draft of the next report by the IPCC – the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – is clear: a rise in global warming to above the limit set by the Paris Agreement on climate would have “irreversible impacts on human systems” and that the consequences will be “progressively more severe, will last for centuries and in some cases will be irreversible”. “Life on Earth may recover from major climate change by evolving into new species and creating new ecosystems,” the IPCC notes, “but humans cannot.”

The IPCC reminds us that climate change is already happening and that “the worst is yet to come and those who will pay the consequences, far more than us, will be our children and grandchildren”. The IPCC estimates that to date, compared to pre-industrial levels, global temperatures have risen by 1.1°C, a figure that has already triggered changes with very significant effects on our lives. The risk is that, at this rate, in 2050 there will be 80 million more hungry people in the world than there are today and that over the next 10 years there could be 130 million more people living in poverty. Hundreds of millions of people living in coastal areas may also be forced to migrate due to rising sea levels. Additionally, 350 million more people will be threatened by drinking water shortages, a figure that will rise to 400 million if the temperature rises by 2 degrees. Extreme weather events will become increasingly violent and frequent: heat waves, droughts, hurricanes, fires, floods. And in terms of health, diseases, especially those carried by insects, will be an increasing threat.

The comprehensive 4,000-page assessment report, which is far more grim than the previous one published in 2014, aims to warn governments, for the umpteenth time, of the need to act immediately and to do so effectively. Although its main conclusions will not change, the final text will be officially published in February 2022, after its approval by consensus by the 195 member states. Climate policies must be based on this document and this draft must be referred to by the delegates who take part in the 26th United Nations World Climate Conference (Cop 26), which will be held in Glasgow, Scotland, in November.

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