Climate Change

New UN IPCC report calls for climate justice, resilient development

synthesis report UN-IPCC-climate-justice-resilient-development

Photo: iStock


March 20, 2023






March 20, 2023





There are multiple, feasible and effective options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to human-caused climate change, said scientists in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released today. They urged decision makers to protect the most vulnerable people and turn to climate-resilient investments.

IPCC’s new Synthesis Report is the final part of its Sixth Assessment cycle. It was prepared and released ahead of the review of individual countries’ progress toward the Paris Agreement goals.

“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.”

In 2018, IPCC highlighted the unprecedented scale of the challenge required to keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Five years later, that challenge has become even greater due to a continued increase in greenhouse gas emissions. The pace and scale of what has been done so far, and current plans, are insufficient to tackle climate change, according to the United Nations body.

Past achievements and current pledges are insufficient

More than a century of burning fossil fuels as well as unequal and unsustainable energy and land use has led to global warming of 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels, it noted. More frequent and more intense extreme weather events are increasingly jeopardizing nature and people in every region of the world.

Climate-driven food and water insecurity is expected to increase with increased warming, IPCC warned and pointed to additional difficulties from pandemics and conflicts.

Losses and damages in sharp focus

The report is also focusing on the continued losses and damages, hitting the most vulnerable people and ecosystems especially hard. “Climate justice is crucial because those who have contributed least to climate change are being disproportionately affected. Almost half of the world’s population lives in regions that are highly vulnerable to climate change,” said Aditi Mukherji, one of the 93 authors.

In the last decade, deaths from floods, droughts and storms were 15 times higher in highly vulnerable regions, she stressed.

Emissions should be decreasing by now and will need to be cut by almost half by 2030, if warming is to be limited to 1.5 degrees, the panel said.

Adaptation measures need to be combined with emission cuts

The solution lies in climate-resilient development, according to the authors. They explained it involves integrating measures to adapt to climate change with actions to reduce or avoid greenhouse gas emissions in ways that provide wider benefits.

For example, access to clean energy and technologies improves health, especially for women and children, while low-carbon electrification, walking, cycling and public transport enhance air quality, improve health, employment opportunities and deliver equity, the announcement adds. The economic benefits for people’s health from air quality improvements alone would be roughly the same, or possibly even larger than the costs of reducing or avoiding emissions, researchers found.

Emissions must be almost halved by 2030 to limit global warming at 1.5 degrees

“The greatest gains in wellbeing could come from prioritizing climate risk reduction for low-income and marginalised communities, including people living in informal settlements,” said Christopher Trisos, one of the report’s authors.

There is sufficient global capital to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions if existing barriers are reduced, according to the report, which points to the key role of governments, through public funding and clear signals to investors. Political commitment, coordinated policies, international cooperation, ecosystem stewardship and inclusive governance are all important for effective and equitable climate action, IPCC said.

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