The United Nation’s Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, of which India is one of the 195 members, has released its sixth assessment report today. Scientists are observing changes in the Earth’s climate in every region and across the whole climate system. Some of the changes already set in motion – such as continued sea level rise – are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years. Yet drastic and rapid cuts in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases can limit climate change, but nations have to agree to do this. Even if by some miracle nations agree, when they meet in Glasgow, UK, later this year, on immediate, and drastic cuts it could take 20-30 years to see global temperatures stabilize although benefits for air quality would come quickly. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called the IPCC’s assessment – the most detailed review of climate science ever conducted – “code red for humanity”.
Here are the 10 points of the IPCC climate change report:
1. The world is warming faster. Global heating is on track to hit 1.5 degrees Celsius around 2030, a decade earlier than projected in 2018, according to the bombshell report.
2. Sea levels are rising faster. Average rate between 1901-1971 was 1.3 mm/year, this more than doubled to 3.7 mm/year between 2006-2018. Global mean sea level increased by 0.20 (0.15 to 0.25) m between 1901 and 2018.
3. Hot extremes (including heatwaves) have become more frequent and more intense across most land regions since the 1950s, while cold extremes (including cold waves) have become less frequent and less severe.
4. Human-induced climate change is seen the main driver of these changes.
5. Cities are hotspots of global warming because these trap heat and there’s a lack of cooling areas like water and vegetation.
6. Once-in-10-year and once-in-50-year events of extreme heat, heavy rain and droughts will become more frequent and intense.
7. Extreme weather events are likely to be of larger magnitude, increased frequency, new locations, different timing, new combinations i.e. two or more extreme events occurring together, heatwave and drought for example.
8. While it’s difficult to identify the exact causes of a particular extreme event, on a case-by-case basis, scientists can now quantify the contribution of human influences to the magnitude and probability of many extreme events.
9. Climate change and are quality are intimately linked, two sides of the same coin. Addressing both issues together could lead to significant synergies and economic benefits.
10. Global warming can be limited by the end of this century but it will take drastic and immediate cuts – from now – in burning fossil fuels and other activities emitting greenhouse gases.