Climate change: 5 key topics from the UN Climate Report

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Climate change is a widespread, intense and accelerating problem, the course is ours

For those who live in the West, the threat of global warming is no longer a problem that only affects remote areas.

Dr. Friederike Otto is one of the authors of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report. “Climate change is not a problem of the future, it is a problem that affects the present and all regions,” says Otto.

What makes the UN report powerful and striking is that scientists express their claims with confidence.

In the 40-page section of the report titled “Summary for Policymakers”, the phrase “probably” was used 42 times. Scientifically, that means 90-100 percent certainty.

“There is nothing surprising about the report, what makes it so powerful, it is the expression of certainty that usually prevails,” Professor Arthur Petersen of UCL University London told the BBC. .

Petersen, former representative of the Dutch government to the IPCC, was also an observer during the approval of the report.

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He says of the report: “A measured and calm report which blames no one and reveals the situation with bang, bang, bang.”

The clearest question identified concerns human responsibility for climate change. There is no longer an evasive expression: we are responsible for what happens.


In the previous IPCC report on climate change published in 2013, the issue of limiting the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees as a safe global limit was not raised.

However, during the political negotiations of the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, many developing countries and islands pushed for this limit to be determined and said it was a matter of theirs. life or death.

In a report prepared in 2018 on a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees, it was pointed out that staying below this rate would have great advantages over an increase of 2 degrees, for it to halve carbon emissions. by 2030 and net zero carbon by 2050. attention has been focused on the emission target.

Otherwise, a temperature increase of 1.5 degrees would have occurred between 2030 and 2052.

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The new report reaffirms this observation. Whatever the scenario, it is specified that the threshold of 1.5 degrees will be reached in 2040, and if carbon emissions are not limited, this increase will take place within 10 years.

The net zero carbon goal means reducing greenhouse gas emissions as much as possible through methods such as clean technology and green energy, while ensuring that the rest is absorbed by methods such as tree plantation.

Although the situation is serious, that does not mean falling into a sudden disaster.

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One of the authors of the report, Dr. Amanda Maycock is a fellow of the University of Leeds in England. “The 1.5 degree threshold is a politically important threshold, of course, but in terms of climate it doesn’t mean a knife, so there’s no such thing as’ everything will be catastrophic when the limit of 1 .5 degree will be exceeded, ‘”he says.

“In the lowest emissions scenario considered in the report, warming stabilizes at around 1.5 degrees Celsius or below this century. If we do it this way, the consequences of climate change are largely preventable. . “

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The IPCC has been criticized in the past for being overly cautious in assessing the risk of sea level rise. Due to the lack of clear research on this topic, the potential effects of Greenland’s melting glaciers and from Antarctica have not been included in previous reports. This time no.

The report says that under the current scenario, sea level rise could exceed the likely rate, reaching 2 meters by the end of this century and 5 meters by 2150. If this is unlikely, it is not. is not excluded in a scenario where greenhouse gas emissions are too high.

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However, the sea level will continue to rise even if emissions are limited and the temperature rise is kept around 1.5 degrees by 2100.

Among the authors of the IPCC report, the university professor at the University of Melbourne. According to Malte Meinshausen, the danger “relates to these frightening figures of long-term sea level rise”.

Even with a temperature rise of 1.5 degrees, there is 2-3 meters of long-term sea level rise, the report says. In the worst case, there could be a few meters of rise by 2150. It’s frightening, something that could happen very soon, if not at the end of our life, and the planet’s problematic legacy. “

Even if the sea level rise is relatively minor, it will have inevitable consequences. According to Valérie Masson-Delmotte, chair of the working group that prepared the IPCC report, “The gradual rise in sea level will mean that events that have occurred once in the last hundred years will recur more frequently at the future “.

“What happened once a century in the past will happen once or twice a decade in the middle of this century. The information we present in this report is very important, it must be considered and prepared.”


The report contains clearer and more serious warnings than in the past. But there is also hope. Scientists believe that the climate’s sensitivity to carbon dioxide (CO2) is more than previously thought, and they have been concerned for a long time.

In terms of expectations on what a doubling of the level of CO2 would have on the increase in the temperature of the planet, the 2013 report mentioned an increase of 1.5 to 4.5 degrees.

In this report, the upper limit was determined to be 3 degrees. Another big surprise in the report concerns methane, one of the gases that causes the atmosphere to warm. According to the IPCC, the temperature on the planet has now increased by 1.1 degrees, of which 0.3 degrees is due to methane.

Reducing emissions from oil and gas, agriculture and rice can yield big results in the short term.

“The report ends the debate on urgently reducing methane pollution, especially in the oil and gas sector, where reduction will be the fastest and cheapest way to get results,” said Fred Krupp from the United States Environmental Defense Fund.

teacher. Krupp points out that the fastest and most effective way to combat global warming is to reduce methane emissions caused by human activities.

The fact that the IPCC report was released a few months before the COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in November, means that it will likely serve as a basis for negotiations.

Because the 2013 and 2014 IPCC reports paved the way for the Paris Climate Agreement.

The new report contains much stronger, clearer and more certain predictions of what will happen if politicians do not act.

If timely action is not taken and COP26 fails, the courts can intervene further.

In recent years, environmental campaigns in Ireland and the Netherlands have led to lawsuits to mobilize governments and businesses, and these have been effective.

“We will not allow this report to be set aside for inaction. We will take it to court ourselves,” said Kaisa Kosonen, policy advisor for the environmental organization Greenpeace Nordic.

“By strengthening the scientific evidence between anthropogenic emissions and extreme weather events, the IPCC offers new and effective tools for everyone, everywhere, regarding the fossil fuel industry and the direct responsibility of governments in climate change.

“To understand how solid the scientific data of the IPCC is, just look at the NGO case against Shell.”

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