WASHINGTON—Following a virtual session, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) today released the second part of its Sixth Assessment Report, which focuses on climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. It also builds on the first part, which covered the physical science basis for climate change. Complementing the report is a summary document endorsed by governments that provides policymakers with an updated accounting of current and future climate change impacts, adaptation efforts and limits, factors that will make certain populations and locations more vulnerable to climate risks, and actions that must be taken urgently to help protect people and ecosystems. This report is the result of several years of hard work by scientists from around the world, drawing on an exhaustive foundation of peer-reviewed scientific literature in a process that demands intensive scrutiny and consensus.
In addition to the usual information past IPCC reports have covered, the latest iteration assessed by Working Group II emphasizes the importance of social justice and the vital role of local and Indigenous knowledge in achieving the best possible outcomes when adapting to climate change. The report also brings increased attention to how climate change is harming people’s physical and mental health and the socioeconomic factors that can increase the vulnerability of people or places to climate impacts.
Below is a statement by Dr. Rachel Licker, a principal climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).
“Today, at about 1.1 degrees Celsius of warming above preindustrial levels, more than 40% of the world’s population is already living in areas highly vulnerable to climate change impacts such as frequent extreme heat, worsening drought and rising sea levels. Some places are experiencing irreversible impacts or extremes so severe that adapting may no longer be a viable option. This report spells out in alarming detail how much more is at risk if policymakers fail during this consequential decade to drastically reduce global heat-trapping emissions and adapt to the impacts that are no longer avoidable. The next cycle of IPCC reports will likely be released around 2030, when we will be living with the ramifications of the choices we make today. These choices will either put us on the path toward limiting the most dangerous impacts of climate change spelled out in the IPCC’s report or not. Every fraction of a degree of warming we can avoid matters because significant impacts and even irreversible tipping points will continue to mount as temperatures rise.”
“Las naciones que menos han contribuido a la crisis climática, inclusive de aquellas en América Central, América del Sur, África del Este, el Sur de Asia, y en islas pequeñas han sufrido el embate de la crisis climática debido principalmente al desarrollo no equitativo. El informe del Panel Intergubernamental en Cambio Climático hace hincapié en el hecho de que aquellos quienes han sido marginados por sus ingresos, raza, etnia, identidad de género, o por el colonialismo, seguirán padeciendo los peores embates del cambio climático y sufrirán más pérdidas y perjuicios. En la medida que las y los responsables de formular políticas actúen para limitar los daños climáticos, deben dar prioridad a soluciones equitativas que atiendan las necesidades de aquellos en la primera línea de la crisis climática, así como elevar las voces de las y los Indígenas y su conocimiento. Adicionalmente, ya es hora de que las naciones ricas que cargan la responsabilidad histórica de las emisiones y el calentamiento global—incluyendo a los Estados Unidos—asuman su responsabilidad.”
Below is a statement by Dr. Rachel Cleetus, the policy director and lead economist for the Climate and Energy Program at UCS and an official civil society observer to the IPCC Working Group II process.
“Today, governments of the world have endorsed an IPCC summary report that makes clear the climate crisis is already upon us and doesn’t mince words in saying that current efforts to slash global warming emissions and adapt to mounting climate impacts fall far short of what’s needed. The science is clear: we have a quickly narrowing window to rein in climate change by making deep cuts in emissions, investing in adaptation, and advancing climate-resilient development. Further delay in action would be catastrophic for people and the planet, and will also cause substantial, rising, and inequitable economic damages. Richer countries bear a significant responsibility for climate action, including cutting their emissions sharply, paying for the loss and damage they have caused, and rapidly scaling up funding for climate-vulnerable developing nations. Fossil fuel polluters also need to be held accountable for their role in this crisis. In the United States, Congress should seize the opportunity to advance the Build Back Better agenda, as a down payment on climate, jobs and justice. The world’s scientists say the time for incrementalism is over; now is the time for transformative actions to help secure a safer, more just, and sustainable future for all.”
More information on the experts UCS has available to comment on the report is found below. Please contact UCS Climate and Energy Media Manager Ashley Siefert Nunes to talk to a UCS expert.
- Dr. Astrid Caldas, a senior climate scientist at UCS. She can do interviews in English and Portuguese. Dr. Caldas is based in Washington, D.C. Click here to view her biography.
- Dr. Rachel Cleetus, the policy director and lead economist for the Climate and Energy Program at UCS. She is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Click here to view her biography.
- Dr. Kristina Dahl, a principal climate scientist at UCS. She is based in Oakland, California. Click here to view her biography.
- Dr. Juan Declet-Barreto, a senior social scientist for climate vulnerability at UCS. He can do interviews in English and Spanish. Dr. Declet-Barreto is based in Washington, D.C. Click here to view his biography.
- Dr. Rachel Licker, a principal climate scientist at UCS. She previously served as a chapter scientist and contributing author with the IPCC’s Working Group II. Dr. Licker is based in Madison, Wisconsin. Click here to view her biography.