The IPCC’s Sixth Assessment report is a brutal reminder to everyone – from citizens to politicians, passing by business people – that a shift towards a carbon-negative global economy is urgent and the only solution to limit the damage we have already done to our planet. The report’s statement that, “it is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land.” is eye-opening. As a result of this human influence, widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred.
The record heat waves and massive wildfires in some parts of the northern hemisphere (e.g., in Italy and France) this year and Australia in 2020, as well as the devastating floods (e.g. in Germany) of summer 2021 are only a preview of what is to come, and sooner than some might think.
Climate change is pervasive, rapid, and intensifying, with consequences that affect every region on the planet, including the oceans. Many extreme climate events, such as those experienced in Europe this summer, have become more frequent and severe. The IPCC report includes an atlas of observed and projected climate change impacts, which will support policymakers, industry actors, and even youth better identify and implement mitigation and adaptation solutions at local, regional and international levels.
The report points out that global surface temperature from 2001 to 2020 was on average 0.99 °C higher than 1850-1900. The temperature will continue to rise during the coming decades, regardless of our mitigation efforts today. Although we will most likely fail to keep the global temperature increase below 2°C and to target the more ambitious goal of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, rapid and concerted action today can limit the damages. Indeed, the report stresses that future emissions’ levels will determine the severity of climate change and the related impacts and risks. Unless we take immediate, robust and large-scale actions to cut greenhouse gas emissions, we won’t slow down the accelerating current and future pace of climate change impacts. Governments, communities and businesses must plan for the consequences and contribute to solutions to avoid the world slipping into an unpredictable and dangerous modern climate reality.
The report is based on the analysis of more than 14 000 scientific studies. The report’s authors offer, in striking detail, the most up-to-date information on current, short-term and long-term climate impacts, grounded in a firm level of certainty (never before has the IPCC stated that anthropogenic climate change is “unequivocal”). Now more than ever it is crucial that governments worldwide acknowledge the scientific evidence put on the table by the IPCC.
A just energy transition is one step to achieve the vision of a carbon-negative society. However, we cannot rely on technology alone. Public awareness, local solutions and a society-wide exchange of solutions and ideas are necessary for the transition as well.
At EYEN, we believe that intergenerational dialogue is key to finding solutions. New and ambitious solutions to the climate crisis can only emerge with the collaboration of all stakeholders while considering the future needs of our population. Efficient and effective youth involvement is important to identify the challenges, bring innovative perspectives as well as train, prepare, and inform future generations about the mitigation and adaptation which will be necessary for decades to come.