03 Nov 2022
What's this report?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. The IPCC authors don't conduct their own research, but rather assess the thousands of scientific papers published each year, with the objective of providing governments with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies.
This latest IPCC report focuses on climate impacts, vulnerability and adaptation. Read the full report.
The report doesn't focus on ways to reduce emissions or other solutions to climate change, as these'll be addressed in a subsequent report due out in early April 2022.
What does the report say?
The report concludes that the world is facing devastating and cascading risks from a worsening climate crisis. We can expect worsening threats to food and nature, more harm from extreme weather, higher risks of "tipping points" and cascading events as well as a greater consideration of the role of finance for adaptation and coping with these devastating impacts.
We've already seen some extreme climate events and conditions not projected to take place until 2100. These are projected to increase in magnitude and frequency. Such heatwaves, droughts, floods, storms and fires will result in “compound and cascading” effects on agriculture, water resources, lives, livelihoods and infrastructure. Since 2008, 20 million people have been internally displaced by extreme weather events per year.
By 2050 it's predicted that more than 1 billion people living in coastal areas will be at risk from the dangers of sea-level rise. That means 1 in 10 people on the planet will be directly impacted.
If global temperatures increase by more than 1.5 degrees, even if the temperature is brought back down subsequently, there's a severe risk of breaching "tipping points" that can't be reversed, including the release of carbon stored in peatlands, forests and permafrost.
Over 40% of people (3.3-3.6 billion) live in highly climate-vulnerable countries. Almost all of these people live in the Global South. Vulnerability to the crisis is shaped by processes of marginalisation, such as gender, Indigenous identity, health and poverty, according to the report. Women, the elderly and children in low-income households, Indigenous Peoples and minority groups, small-scale producers and fishing communities are most at risk of impacts such as food insecurity.
Ecosystems and biodiversity
We're witnessing the first climate-driven extinctions. In biodiversity hotspots, 24% of species will be at very high extinction risk at 1.5 degrees of heating. For endemic species, this could increase to 84% of species at very high risk of extinction in mountain regions, and 100% of species on islands.
Food and water
Hundreds of millions of people, especially in Africa, Asia, Small Islands, Central and South America, and the Arctic, are being impacted by stresses on food systems. 10% of current livestock and crop areas may become unsuitable by 2050, rising to 30% by 2100.
However, while there's no escaping the seriousness of the report findings, it's far from "game over". The report concludes that there exist realistic solutions, and that they must be equitable and based on the principles of climate justice.
We have a vision for a future that's safer, more just and sustainable, and that vision is still within reach.
What’s our response?
"Climate reports are plentiful, and this is yet another report that says the planet is changing even faster than predicted. This means lives are being endangered and lost today, not in a distant future.
"The time for reality checks is long gone: we have the answers and means to step back from the brink of climate catastrophe. It starts with an immediate end to the age of fossil fuels and ramping up the shift to renewable energy with all of the governmental support to see that crucial transition through." Rachel Kennerley, International Climate Campaigner, Friends of the Earth
Key messages to communicate
If you're communicating about this report, for example on social media or during a local radio interview, here are 4 key messages to emphasise:
The world is facing devastating and cascading risks from a worsening climate crisis. Climate impacts have appeared earlier, are more widespread, and have worse consequences than the IPCC has previously predicted. Climate risks are appearing faster since the last assessment report, and will get more severe, sooner than previously thought.
The climate crisis is already here. This isn't a future problem, this is a now problem. Millions of people are already facing the dramatic and destructive consequences of a warming world, and this report is a reality check that it's going to get much worse unless we take urgent action to cut emissions. We've already seen some extreme climate events and conditions not projected to take place until 2100. Storms like Dudley, Eunice and Franklin are set to become the new normal for communities across the UK.
The solutions to the climate crisis already exist. This report is devastating to read, but it also tells us that realistic solutions already exist if we act now. We must urgently stop using fossil fuels and move to renewable energy. People here in the UK have been hit particularly hard by the gas price crisis because of our overreliance on gas. We need a rapid move to cheap renewable energy to cut emissions, create green jobs and kick our expensive reliance on gas.
The UK must pay its fair share to support countries already suffering from the impacts of climate change. Some of the consequence of climate change to lives, livelihoods, biodiversity and infrastructure are already locked in and can't be avoided. Under the Paris Agreement, the countries most responsible for the terrible impacts outlined in this report have an obligation to help others deal with them through support and finance. The communities already paying the highest price of climate breakdown are those which contribute least to climate breakdown. Countries like the UK and US must pay their fair share of finance and provide support to help more vulnerable countries weather this storm.
Messages from around the world
"Climate impacts are already happening everywhere, faster, and with worse consequences than ever predicted. We are already witnessing extreme weather events that scientists didn’t expect to see until 2100." Hemantha Withanage, Chair of Friends of the Earth International, based in Sri Lanka
"Scientists have confirmed that much more finance must urgently flow from developed to developing countries, to enable them to adapt and adjust to irreparable damage from climate impacts. This funding is necessary to secure the wellbeing of their citizens and economies. Without it, our hard-fought progress for equity, equality, rights and justice will unravel." Meena Raman, Sahabat Alam Malaysia / Friends of the Earth Malaysia
"This new IPCC report confirms that some damage is beyond repair and it will be impossible for many communities to adapt, especially if the 1.5 degree threshold is breached. We’re facing the potential of hundreds of millions of people displaced from their homes within this century, and swathes of farmland turning to dust. There is an urgent demand for finance for loss and damage, to help vulnerable populations adjust." Amos Nkpeebo, Friends of the Earth Ghana
"For the 3.3-3.6 billion people living in highly climate-vulnerable countries - almost all of whom are in the Global South – this is not news. Those of us on the frontlines of the climate crisis have been shouting this from the rooftops for decades." Anabela Lemos, JA! Justiça Ambiental / Friends of the Earth Mozambique