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Key Findings IPCC Report

Updated: Mar 21, 2023

The latest report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) looks at the impacts, adaptation and vulnerabilities associated with the climate crisis. Researched and written by 270 researchers and scientists from 67 countries, the report covers all areas of climate and environment and the way current global warming of 1.1℃ is impacting natural and human systems, and on how our ability to respond will be increasingly limited with every additional increment of warming. The report offers a damning assessment of the climate emergency, warning of the irreversible impacts of global warming the report suggests climate change risks are greater than thought. The report outlines that there are more risks associated with lower levels of warming than previously thought and the window for change is closing rapidly. As well as outlining the causes and future issues the report gives the clearest indication to date of how a warmer world is affecting all the living things on Earth. Here is an overview of some of the key findings in the report.

The main finding is that the situation is much, much worse than previously expected. Across most areas of focus from sea levels, ice melting, agriculture, natural disasters, biodiversity, coral reefs and more, things are worst off than previously thought. The report finds that around 40% of the world's population is "highly vulnerable" to the impacts of climate change. Certain parts of the world will become inhabitable, with many nations whose contribution to global warming is minimal feeling the worst effects. The report warns that time is running out to stop the incoming climate apartheid.

One of the more worrying finds of the report is that the worlds current climate adaptation measures are ineffective or will begin to fail in the near future as things heat up. Issues such as lack of finances, mismanagement and poor planning mean that the actions in place are at risk of becoming irrelevant to a looming catastrophe. The IPCC also finds that adaptation cannot prevent all losses and damages, which are unequally distributed around the world.

Time is running out, the window of opportunity is fast closing. The world is on a path to exceed 1.5℃ warming within the next decade. This is the limit in which agreed on at the Paris Agreement, not to go past otherwise the negative and irreversible effects of climate change will be realised. To combat this the report calls upon adequate financing, inclusive governance, transparency in decision making, and the participation of a wide range of people and groups.

The United Kingdom is not adequately prepared for climate change, nor is it adapted to it currently. Winters are getting wetter, and summers are getting hotter and dryer in the UK, with this comes increased risks. More flooding from rivers, at the coasts, and from intense downpours in urban areas is one of the biggest impacts, the report says. Infrastructure such as airports, docks, ports and sewage works are under risk according to the report. Heatwaves are becoming an increasing threat in the UK, many homes, places of work and hospitals are unprepared. One in three heat-related deaths in the UK between 1991 and 2018 were due to global warming. The increased hot and dry summers also poses the threat of water shortages.

Cities are an interesting point of discussion in the report, both being a challenge but also showing promise for progress. Around one billion people living in low-lying urban areas are at risk of rising sea levels, coastal erosion damage, flooding and high tides. 350 million people living in cities face the threat of water scarcity caused by droughts and higher temperatures. Air pollution in heavily congested cities is also going to become a major problem if things carry on as they are.

The development and growth financially of cities is what offers hope. As cities continue to grow they can push for renewable energy, greener transport, and buildings. This could limit destructive climate impacts for millions. The IPCC report maps a wide range of options for urban adaptation. These include physical barriers to stop floods and rising seas, or more nature-based solutions such as planting trees upstream to slow excess river flows and shade homes in heatwaves.

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