Mainstreaming effective and equitable climate action will not only reduce losses and damages for nature and people, it will also provide wider benefits,” said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee. “This Synthesis Report underscores the urgency of taking more ambitious action and shows that, if we act now, we can still secure a liveable, sustainable future for all.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its 6th Assessment Report on 20 Mar 2023. The IPCC is an international group of leading scientists who review the nature and state of climate change impacts on the planet and recommend how we can tackle it. Every 6 to 7 years, it publishes an Assessment Report that takes stock of how the world is progressing with regard to keeping global temperatures within the 1.5-degree goal of the Paris Agreement. Each Assessment Report helps humanity understand the current state and make course corrections in a timely manner. With only seven years left before the 2030 deadline for critical changes, it is imperative to understand the report’s findings. We break down the most important takeaways in this blog.
Before addressing the report, it is helpful to understand key terminology:
- • Cumulative emissions: CO2 and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) concentration in the atmosphere has exceeded the capacity of the natural carbon cycle, leading to accumulation and global warming. Limiting human-caused global warming to a specific level requires limiting cumulative emissions, which means it is necessary to cease emitting more GHGs and simultaneously remove existing GHGs from the atmosphere.
- • Mitigation: Mitigation means making the impacts of climate change less severe by preventing or reducing the emission of GHGs into the atmosphere via actions such as shifting to cleaner fuels, carbon removal, etc.
- • Adaptation: Adaptation is the process of adjusting to the current and future effects of climate change, for example, building sea walls and behavioral shifts like changing diets.
- • Climate finance: Climate finance aims at reducing emissions, enhancing sinks of GHGs, and increasing the resilience of human and ecological systems to adverse climate change impacts.
What are the most critical takeaways from the report?
- • Time is running out. Emissions continue to rise, which leaves a rapidly narrowing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all. Individuals, businesses, and governments must act now.
- • It is possible to still limit global warming to the 1.5-degree Celsius goal set by the Paris Agreement by rapidly scaling existing proven options and designing interventions that work for diverse contexts.
- • Carbon dioxide removal (CDR) will be necessary to achieve net-negative CO2 emissions. According to the IPCC, CDR can fulfill three complementary goals: lowering net emissions in the near future, balancing residual emissions from hard-to-abate sectors (e.g., aviation, shipping, and agriculture), and achieving net-negative emissions if deployed at a large scale. This makes CDR a powerful tool in the kit. Download the Beginners Guide to Carbon Credits to learn more about the voluntary carbon market and carbon credits.
The report covers several mitigation strategies and compares their effectiveness. Switching to renewable energy remains one of the most effective ways to reduce emissions. Conserving and restoring natural ecosystems like forests and coastal areas are also highly effective but come at a higher cost.
- • Scaling ecosystem-based approaches: Specifically, the AR6 emphasizes the urgent need to scale ecosystem-based adaptation approaches like conservation of wetlands and peatlands, preserving forest ecosystems, and urban forestry since they provide multiple co-benefits like reducing flood risks and urban heat. Similarly, mitigation approaches like afforestation, reforestation, and agroforestry also provide several co-benefits as they support food security, livelihoods, and biodiversity. Reducing fluorinated gas emissions is also a highly effective way to reduce emissions, given that such gases are hundreds of times more potent GHGs than CO2.
- • Importance of climate finance: The funds flowing toward fossil fuels are significantly larger than those toward climate, and this has to change soon. Climate finance needs to grow to 3-6 times the current amount, and policymakers and financial institutions have several instruments available to make it a reality.
- • Addressing barriers to climate action: According to the IPCC, action is required to remove several barriers to climate action:
- (a) Lack of private sector and citizen participation
- (b) Insufficient mobilization of finance
- (c) Low climate literacy
- (d) Lack of political commitment
- (e) Limited research and slow uptake of adaptation science
- (f) Low sense of urgency
Businesses and governments should prioritize bringing awareness and urgency to taking climate action while simultaneously providing citizens with avenues to take action.
How can you take action TODAY?
- • Set and act on your ESG goals by understanding your environmental impacts, including your carbon footprint. Cloverly can help you bring efficiencies to shipping emissions with our flexible GLEC-accredited calculator.
- • Invest in carbon removals and credits that support corporate goals. Cloverly identifies and drives investment toward impactful programs by continuously evaluating the dynamic landscape of the voluntary carbon market.
- • A multi-pronged approach is essential, and working with a trusted advisor can help businesses progress faster.
- • Review lifestyle and consumption habits to find opportunities to reduce your own carbon footprint. Utilizing financial services that provide such insights into your spending habits can be a simple first step.
- • Be aware of carbon impacts in your ecosystem, and advocate for low-carbon approaches in your organization and community.
- • Every person can make an impact by changing their behaviors and spreading awareness.
A final note
Much like previous assessment reports from IPCC, the AR6 is a wake-up call for humanity. The time to act by everyone, from governments to businesses to individuals, is now. The report also stresses the immediate need to decarbonize every aspect of our lives and simultaneously invest in removing the cumulative emissions from the atmosphere through carbon carbon removal. Cloverly believes that the voluntary carbon market is a crucial lever to secure a sustainable climate-resilient future for the planet.