On Monday, the United Nations was set to release a summary report that condenses over 10,500 pages of scientific research on global warming authored by more than 1,000 scientists over almost a decade.
Summary for policymakers
The report, a dense 30-page “summary for policymakers” prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is expected to issue a stark warning about the current state of the planet.
During a meeting in Interlaken, Switzerland, last week, diplomats from 195 nations gathered to finalize the wording of the report, which had been delayed by two days due to exhaustion and lack of sleep among the delegates.
The UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, stated that “We are nearing a point of no return” due to climate destruction, an issue that the IPCC has been highlighting for decades.
Since the last synthesis report by the IPCC in 2014, scientific research has revealed that the devastating effects of global warming are occurring more rapidly and at lower levels of warming than previously thought.
The Earth’s average surface temperature has risen by 1.2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, resulting in more frequent and severe extreme weather events such as tropical storms that are exacerbated by rising sea levels.
The report highlights that if the world continues on its current trajectory, the planet is set to warm by an additional 1.6 degrees Celsius.
Climate change has already contributed to deadly heatwaves, floods, and droughts in different parts of the world in 2022, according to the World Weather Attribution consortium, which includes many of the IPCC authors.
The research of the past decade has also raised concerns about tipping points in the Earth’s climate system that, once surpassed, could trigger irreversible changes such as the transformation of the Amazon rainforest into a savannah and the melting of ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica, causing sea levels to rise by several meters.
During the week-long IPCC meeting, the focus was on potential solutions to decarbonize the global economy rapidly enough to avoid severe climate impacts.
The 2015 Paris Agreement aimed to cap warming at “well below” 2C, with the more ambitious goal of 1.5C being adopted as a hard target by governments and businesses since the 2018 IPCC special report.
Negotiations in Interlaken were politicized, with government representatives, mainly from oil-producing states, interfering in scientific discussions.
Saudi Arabia fought to dilute passages highlighting the central role of fossil fuels in driving global warming and insisted on balancing the mention of renewable energy with carbon capture and storage technologies.
The IPCC synthesis report will feed into the next UN climate talks in Dubai, where countries will face the inadequacy of their Paris pledges to cut emissions. The global stocktake will be unveiled before COP28 in Dubai.
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