The latest findings of the IPCC climate report are a wake-up call for us all


In case you haven’t noticed the devastating floods that have engulfed one side of Australia, climate change will only get worse, as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has once again warned. climate (IPCC). Climate scientists and governments around the world said in the latest IPCC report that climate change is now a threat to human well-being and warned that we are about to miss a window to ensure a “livable and sustainable future”. sustainable for all”.

What do the conclusions of the IPCC report say?

The new report found that the scale of the impact of climate change threatens to overwhelm the world’s ability to adapt over the coming decades. Some countries will need rapid lifestyle transformations, alongside immediate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

The immediate actions recommended aim to stop warming at 1.5°C, as this could reduce many of the most severe impacts on ecosystems. But that won’t stop them all. As it stands, global policies allow the world to warm by at least 2.1°C by 2100, potentially up to 3.9°C.

What does the IPCC report mean for Australia?

Despite all the measures taken now, the IPCC assessment indicates that we face irreversible changes, both in regional and urban areas. These changes include:

  • Sea level rise, destruction of homes and infrastructure
  • Extreme heat leading to more deaths each year
  • Weather conditions reduce crop and livestock productivity

Emissions-intensified extreme events — like floods, storms, and heat waves — cause deaths, injuries, and fiscal strains, as their impacts “cascade and escalate” through nature and the environment. economy. The report’s consensus explains that some natural systems in Australia have already suffered irreversible changes attributable to climate change, including coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef and the extinction of Bramble Cay Melomys, a mammal that lost its habitat in due to sea level rise and the storm. surges.

What is the Australian government doing to tackle the climate emergency?

A capital question, and once for which we would like an adequate answer. For now, this is not a fantastic approach.

In line with the guidelines of the international climate talks, governments around the world have committed to developing a formal National Adaptation Plan (NAP), designed to explore strategies for responding to the threats posed by climate change and how they can reduce impact on communities, environment and economy. More than 100 countries have published their NAPs. Australia has yet to submit its official plan to the UN climate talks.

The Morrison government has designed its own plan, called the National Climate Resilience and Adaptation Strategy. However, there is a lack of formal targets or meaningful adaptation policies to adequately address the ongoing environmental crisis. The strategy was ranked last in an assessment of adaptation plans designed by over 50 county governments, with the assessment concluding that we are among the nations most vulnerable to climate change, but our plan is not aligned with the Paris Agreement.

The government has also abdicated its responsibilities at the UN climate talks, not committing to stronger emissions reduction targets for 2030 and will not respond to calls to phase out the use. coal and methane emissions at the COP26 summit held in 2021. The lack of action is not addressing the risks posed to Australia’s ecological systems and the safety of people in vulnerable communities.

Morrison’s government has been made aware of this on several fronts, including by think tank The Australia Institute which has told the government that its inaction places the burden of climate adaptation on Australians themselves. As this article is published, Australians are being forced to climb onto the roofs of their homes in Queensland and New South Wales to escape rising floodwaters; others took canoes into the ocean to escape the Victoria bushfires in late 2019. People are dying and lives are being uprooted because of climate change and the lack of long-term responses – rather than solutions for dressing – is repugnant.

The IPCC report released earlier this week is the second part of its latest assessment of climate change, based on thousands of peer-reviewed scientific papers. The first part focused on the physical science of climate change, and the second on the impact of the crisis and how we can adapt. A third installment is due out in April. You can read the report here.

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