The influential Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has made public its final ‘Synthesis’ report, which is part of the Sixth Assessment Cycle. Since 1990, when the IPCC began publicising its compilation of global scientific research linking greenhouse gas emissions with changes in weather and climate, the evidence that human actions are nudging the world closer to irreversible cataclysms has only grown stronger. The IPCC’s various assessment cycles have played a significant role in it. There is little by way of new information in the latest report that was made public after weeklong deliberations at Interlaken, Switzerland. This is because it is a synthesis of reports that since 2018 have not only bolstered the human link in warming but also analysed, from multiple angles, the implications of not meeting the 2015 Paris Agreement, of endeavouring to keep temperatures from rising 1.5°C above pre-industrial times.
The report stresses the need for finance to flow from developed countries to developing countries and the need to compensate countries that are poised to lose the most from climate change, to help them build resilience. In a summary for policymakers, the latest synthesis report says that the planet’s best chance to keep temperatures below 1.5°C is to ensure greenhouse gas emissions are reduced to 48% of 2019 levels by 2030 and 99% by 2050. Currently, the policies declared by countries collectively, if implemented entirely, are poised to see temperatures rise 2.5°C to 3.2°C by 2100. The latest report may weigh in significantly at the next session of the Conference of Parties scheduled in Dubai in November where a Global Stocktake — countries laying out what they have so far done to achieve commitments laid out in the Paris Agreement — is likely to be the highlight of proceedings. The IPCC reports have generally been viewed as a portent of doom but the current report also talks about the falling cost of solar and wind power, and the expansion of electric vehicle fleets. However, Paris Agreement targets cannot be met without negative emissions, or carbon dioxide removal and would entail untested technologies that now appear to be impractically expensive. India has “welcomed” the report and said that several sections underline its stated position: that the climate crisis is due to unequal contributions, and that climate justice must underlie mitigation and adaptation. However, India must also not ignore the other message that only a concerted effort, with countries stretching beyond their comfort zones, can give the planet a fighting chance to stave off the worst.
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