MEDIA STATEMENT: IPCC AR6 Rapidly closing window for us to act before a 1.5℃ target is out of reach. We cannot take nature for granted.

Monday 9th August

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the UN body responsible for climate science – has just released its first of its three-part 6th Assessment Report (AR6) after a virtual plenary held between 26 July and 6 August. The Working Group I (AR6 WGI) report is the biggest update of the state of knowledge on climate science since the release of AR5 in 2014, and its three recent special reports (SR1.5, SRCCL, SROCC).

Scientists are certain that human-caused emissions have dangerously and permanently changed our planet. The last time atmospheric CO2 levels were this high was millions of years ago. Temperatures are rising faster than any time in at least the last 2000 years.

The symptoms of human-caused climate change can be found throughout the climate system. Changes in rainfall, heat extremes, growing intensity of tropical cyclones and compound events (for example, heatwaves and droughts happening at the same time) can all be attributed to human activity.

Greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide and methane, need to be rapidly reduced this decade and reduced to net-zero by 2050, in order to give us our best chance of limiting temperatures to 1.5°C by the end of the century. But the window is closing fast on our opportunity to achieve this.

N4C Chair Lucy Almond responded:

“Governments and businesses must start implementing immediate emissions cuts to halve pollution by 2030 on the way to full decarbonisation by 2050. In addition, and alongside this, we can no longer take nature for granted. Protecting and restoring nature and transforming our food systems are some of the most critical climate actions we can take. Governments must take action to ensure that nature can continue to stabilise our climate. Nature and agriculture have often been undervalued in climate politics despite clear, stark evidence from scientists that they need to be managed.

In the next few months, we have an unprecedented opportunity to connect the crises on biodiversity, food, and climate. Three global UN summits can all deliver concrete decisions to ensure embrace the contribution that nature can make in helping us avoid the worst-case scenarios, both in terms of mitigation and adaptation.

If we rapidly reduce emissions in line with the most ambitious IPCC pathways, natural carbon sinks and reduction of sources can do a lot to help take us the rest of the way to net zero. If we fail to reduce emissions rapidly, we will be forced into the dangerous situation of relying on technologies that don’t yet meaningfully exist. The decisions and actions taken now in this decade will shape our future for thousands of years to come.”