IEMA's Digital Journalist Tom Pashby discusses the critical findings of the IPCC report.

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a body of the UN, was released today. The report, titled Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, focused on existing and future impacts and risks associated with the climate emergency, measures designed to adapt society to climate chaos, and how to deliver what it calls ‘climate-resilient development’.

The authors of the report stated that the world needs to put much more effort into effective climate mitigation and adaptation, with adaptation particularly having been neglected in favour of shorter-term fixes. In the first of the report’s three sections, climate risk was explored along near term (2021-2040), mid-term (2041-2080) and the long-term (2081-2100). Despite this hinting at the possibility that we still have time to avert disaster, the authors made clear that if global heating breaches 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, it may prove impossible to provide a habitable planet for a very significant proportion of the global population.

For environment and sustainability professionals, this latest update should be seen as both (another) wake-up call, but also as a source of inspiration. Much of the report promoted surprisingly specific courses of action for the world to take in terms of climate mitigation and adaption. Recommendations ranged from deliberative democracy as a decision-making tool and drawing on different forms of knowledge such as Indigenous, local and scientific knowledge, as well as a call to be aware of the risks of potentially maladaptive practices such as “solar radiation modification”.

The panel of authors also regularly repeated calls for improved management of climate mitigation and adaptation approaches, for monitoring and evaluation of adaptation projects – particularly in the long term, and for more widespread frameworks for governance and cooperation between sectors and across borders.

In terms of geographical and demographic focus, communities that face the highest vulnerability were given a good deal of attention. Vulnerability itself was critically evaluated but it seems that there is relative consensus on the definition. If you’re from an already marginalized community, live in a coastal area, a polar region, or a region that is already experiencing the negative impacts of climate chaos such as extreme weather events, you are at the most risk if we fail to mitigate and adapt properly. That very much includes the UK, given our coastline and, in places, very wide socio-economic inequalities.

It’s worth remembering that IPCC reports must be signed off by all of the UN’s member states before being published. With that in mind, the final paragraph of the report is even more striking – “The cumulative scientific evidence is unequivocal: Climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health. Any further delay in concerted anticipatory global action on adaptation and mitigation will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.”

Photo of Tom P
Tom Pashby

Digital Journalist, IEMA

Tom Pashby is a Digital Journalist at IEMA, Tom previously worked in the corporate communications team at EIT Climate-KIC, in the parliamentary office of Caroline Lucas MP, for a think tank called Policy Connect, and for the wind energy industry group RenewableUK. They also set up an All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Role of the House of Lords, and an LGBTQIA+ campaign called Include Mx.