Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Reach Net Zero CO2 Emissions – IPCC

Recently, I starting to hear about new information being released recently from an organization called the “IPCC” and it was a Report on Climate Change.  

The Report became real for me when I found out one of its thousands of scientists is someone who is also a member of a community I’m part of.  All of a sudden, the news I’d been hearing got paired up with something more personal.

What already had my attention now fueled my curiosity.  The more I dug in, the more I realized this is important information for all of us to be aware of!
So, to start – the IPCC stands for the “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” and it is an organization that was originally created by the United Nations in1988, specifically to assess the science related to climate change.

The intention of the IPCC has always been to provide governments at all levels with scientific information they can use to develop climate policies and negotiations. The IPCC scientists volunteer their time to assess thousands of scientific papers published each year, with the aim of providing a comprehensive summary of what is known about the drivers of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and how adaptation and mitigation can reduce those risks. Then, member nations approve the research collected. It is a complex process of inputs, approvals and sources.

Needless to say, when one of these reports comes out, we can trust that the information has been analyzed and gathered from a multitude of perspectives and research.

This August, the IPCC released its sixth report on the state of the climate in our world.  That’s what I’d been hearing about. Here is a key summary of statements worth noting from their website.

“Scientists are observing changes in the Earth’s climate in every region and across the whole climate system…Many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of years, and some of the changes already set in motion—such as continued sea level rise—are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years.

However, strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases would limit climate change. While benefits for air quality would come quickly, it could take 20-30 years to see global temperatures stabilize… unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach.

The report shows that emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are responsible for approximately 1.1°C of warming since 1850-1900, and finds that averaged over the next 20 years, global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5°C of warming. This assessment is based on improved observational datasets to assess historical warming, as well progress in scientific understanding of the response of the climate system to human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.

This report is a reality check,” said IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair Valérie Masson-Delmotte. “We now have a much clearer picture of the past, present and future climate, which is essential for understanding where we are headed, what can be done, and how we can prepare…

“Climate change is already affecting every region on Earth, in multiple ways. The changes we experience will increase with additional warming,” said IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair Panmao Zhai.

The report projects that in the coming decades climate changes will increase in all regions. For 1.5°C of global warming, there will be increasing heat waves, longer warm seasons and shorter cold seasons. At 2°C of global warming, heat extremes would more often reach critical tolerance thresholds for agriculture and health, the report shows.

But it is not just about temperature. Climate change is bringing multiple different changes in different regions – which will all increase with further warming. These include changes to wetness and dryness, to winds, snow and ice, coastal areas and oceans…

“It has been clear for decades that the Earth’s climate is changing, and the role of human influence on the climate system is undisputed,” said Masson-Delmotte. Yet the new report also reflects major advances in the science of attribution – understanding the role of climate change in intensifying specific weather and climate events such as extreme heat waves and heavy rainfall events.

The report also shows that human actions still have the potential to determine the future course of climate. The evidence is clear that carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main driver of climate change, even as other greenhouse gases and air pollutants also affect the climate.

“Stabilizing the climate will require strong, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and reaching net zero CO2 emissions. Limiting other greenhouse gases and air pollutants, especially methane, could have benefits both for health and the climate,” said Zhai.”

Although I originally thought the Report was “dire” – I can see that there is a primary message here: we need to focus on asking for all levels of government to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reach net zero CO2 emissions.

Once we start to come out of the COVID scare, might it be possible to mobilize our newly created capacity to think and act globally, to tackle this issue together?

I hope so!

“This is not a partisan debate; it is a human one. Clean air and water, and a livable climate are inalienable human rights. And solving this crisis is not a question of politics. It is our moral obligation.” … Leonardo DiCaprio