Explained | What is the IPCC synthesis report and what does it say?

The report was signed by country representatives – an unusual step taken to ensure governments accept its findings.

Updated - March 24, 2023 11:02 am IST

Published - March 21, 2023 06:54 pm IST

The industrial backdrop of a BP refinery and a Uniper coal-fired power plant seen in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, March 6, 2023.

The industrial backdrop of a BP refinery and a Uniper coal-fired power plant seen in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, March 6, 2023. | Photo Credit: AP

The story so far: Highlighting the need for urgent climate action, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Synthesis Report for the Sixth Assessment Cycle on March 20 in Interlaken, Switzerland.

The report emphasised the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to human-caused climate change through “mainstream effective and equitable action” for a “liveable sustainable future for all.”

The report was finally approved by nations after major economies like China, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, the U.S. and the European Union raised concerns about the working of the text.

The report was signed by country representatives – an unusual step taken to ensure governments accept its findings, AFPreported

Also Read | Rich nations must achieve net zero carbon quicker, by 2040: U.N. chief Antonio Guterres

What does the report say?

The Synthesis Report is a compilation of the main findings of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report, based on results from three Working Groups (WGs):

  • WG I evaluated the physical science basis of climate change,
  • WG II evaluated the impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability, and
  • WG III evaluated the mitigation

The Synthesis Report also drew from Special Reports based on Global Warming of 1.5°C (October 2018), Climate Change and Land (August 2019), and the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (September 2019).

The report highlights the urgency of drastically reducing the emission of greenhouse gasses and so limit rising global temperatures by 1.5 C from pre-industrial levels, set by the Paris Agreement.

Despite the IPCC’s warnings in 2018, the increase in greenhouse gas emissions continued so much so that the global surface temperature has already warmed by 1.1 C over pre-industrial levels, leading to extreme and/or unpredictable weather events that risking human health, fortunes, and ecosystems.

Noting the impact of the rise in temperature, the report states that such events have made people much more susceptible to food insecurity, water shortages with vulnerable populations disproportionately facing the brunt of climate change. 

The report highlighted the economic loss and damages incurred due to climate change and stressed on the need for financial resolution for a more equitable world. 

“Climate justice is crucial because those who have contributed least to climate change are being disproportionately affected,” said Aditi Mukherji, one of the 93 authors of the report, in a press release

What is the way ahead?

The report suggests climate resilient development that will not only mitigate the effects of climate change but also provide wider benefits.

Access to clean energy, improving air quality to increasing employment opportunities, boosting healthcare through technology, and delivering equity are among the report’s recommended goals to help adapt to climate change.

The report also foregrounded the role of financial investments to achieve climate goals and encouraged public funding through central banks, government and financial regulators to reduce emissions, scale up climate resilience, and protect low-income and marginalised communities.

What are the implications for India?

With a large vulnerable population, India needs to prioritise grants and policies that focusses on adapting to the effects of climate change, said some of the authors of report, according to PTI.

India’s priority should be to minimise loss and damage in terms of lives, livelihood and biodiversity, and accelerate equitable action mitigation and adaptation.

“The new IPCC Synthesis Report has a sobering message on impacts: warming has already reached 1.1 C, this is unequivocally due to climate change and the impacts are likely to be greater at a particular temperature than earlier thought,” Navroz Dubash, of the Centre for Policy Research, said in a mail to The Hindu.

“Several messages emerge that are salient for India: It proposes an approach emphasising ‘climate resilient development’. This recognises that development is important, but the quality of that development, whether it locks us into low or high carbon choices or resilient development is important,” he added.

As a developing country, India can lower its per-capita emissions through energy efficiency policies already being implemented in almost every sector, Joyashree Roy of the Asian Institute of Technology and one of the authors of the report, told PTI. However, it can also decarbonise the energy sector by using cleaner options like solar and renewable energy, she added.

  • Highlighting the need for urgent climate action, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Synthesis Report for the Sixth Assessment Cycle on March 20 in Interlaken, Switzerland
  • The report highlights the urgency of drastically reducing the emission of greenhouse gasses and so limit rising global temperatures by 1.5 C from pre-industrial levels, set by the Paris Agreement.
  • Access to clean energy, improving air quality to increasing employment opportunities, boosting healthcare through technology, and delivering equity are among the report’s recommended goals to help adapt to climate change.
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