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Code red for humanity: the IPCC’s latest report is another wake up call to the urgency of the climate crisis

11th August 2021

Susanna Jackson

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has released its 6th Assessment Report on the Physical Science Basis of climate change. The report comes as a code red for humanity, highlighting the scale of the climate emergency and need for countries and governments to take rapid action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The key takeaways from the report are summarised below:

It is ‘unequivocal’ that human activity has warmed the atmosphere, land and oceans:

  • Improved knowledge of climate processes, measurement technologies, historical records, and laboratory experiments have given scientists more confidence than ever before in humanity’s role in climate change
  • Many changes caused by past and future release of GHGs are irreversible for centuries to millennia

Human induced climate change is causing climate extremes and affecting weather patterns in every region:

  • Evidence of changes in heatwaves, heavy rainfall, droughts and cyclones has already been seen
  • Sea level is rising more quickly, the rate of increase has nearly tripled in the last decade and a worst-case 2m rise scenario cannot be ruled out by the end of the century

The earth’s natural carbon sinks are reaching their limit:

  • Since 1960, forests, soils and oceans have absorbed 56% of all carbon dioxide released by humanity
  • As we continue to destroy them, they are losing their ability to soak up this carbon

Warming is projected to hit the 1.5-degree threshold between 2030 and 2035 in all 5 modelled scenarios, ranging from the highly optimistic to the reckless

  • This is a full decade earlier than previously thought
  • If we do everything right, warming can decrease back below 1.5 degrees by 2100, due to large scale deployment of negative emission technologies

Reaching the Net Zero carbon emissions target within the carbon budget is fundamental if we want to limit impacts of the climate crisis

  • Far more drastic and urgent action is required than has been taken so far
  • We need to reduce cumulative carbon emissions, other greenhouse gas emissions (including methane), and decarbonise as rapidly as possible.

2021 is the critical decade for climate action. The report comes at a crucial time ahead of the Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow in November 2021, where countries will need to agree to take actions which are proportionate to the scale of the climate crisis. Signatories to the Paris agreement will need to raise their ambitions for mitigating climate change in line with these findings.

The UK’s legally binding net-zero target by 2050 will likely mean further requirements for businesses will be introduced in the coming years. A recent poll conducted by O2 and the British Chambers of Commerce found that just 1 in 10 SMEs are measuring the carbon footprint of their operations, with one of the main challenges being a lack of in-house understanding or expertise.

Comply Direct can help your business get ahead of the curve and start out on your carbon management journey, click here to view our services.