IPCC: ‘If we act now, we can secure a sustainable future for all’

20 Mar 2023

Image: © 24Novembers/Stock.adobe.com

In the last decade, deaths from floods, droughts and storms were 15 times higher in what the IPCC classifies as highly vulnerable regions.

The overall message from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is that it is incumbent on wealthy countries to take immediate action to help people in poorer nations who are disproportionately affected by natural disasters.

The pronouncement from the IPCC comes from the Climate Change 2023 Synthesis Report, which was published today (20 March). The report summarises the scientific findings of some of the previous IPCC reports that were published over the past few years.

IPCC scientists used the publication of this summary report to call on wealthy governments to up their commitments to addressing climate catastrophes.

“Climate justice is crucial because those who have contributed least to climate change are being disproportionately affected,” said Aditi Mukherji, one of the new report’s co-authors.

“Almost half of the world’s population lives in regions that are highly vulnerable to climate change. In the last decade, deaths from floods, droughts and storms were 15 times higher in highly vulnerable regions,“ she added.

According to Hoesung Lee, chair of the IPCC, the Synthesis Report “underscores the urgency of taking more ambitious action and shows that, if we act now, we can still secure a liveable sustainable future for all.”

Previous IPCC reports that informed the Synthesis Report date back several years. Most contain urgent warnings and climate-science based recommendations on how to address cutting emissions using policies.

Sustainable development policies, slashing emissions and paying attention to how we interact with the natural world are key to mitigating the damage humans are wreaking on the planet.

The IPCC previously said that targets of cutting emissions by 50pc by 2030 is achievable – and this has not changed in the current report.

However, the group maintains that rich countries must pull their weight when it comes to implementing policy changes.

A report by the IPCC from last year found that some of the effects of the climate crisis may be irreversible.

At the time of its release, IPCC chair Lee said it was a “dire warning about the consequences of inaction”.

Regarding today’s report, Lee said that nations will need to make climate action front and centre of their policies.

“Mainstreaming effective and equitable climate action will not only reduce losses and damages for nature and people, it will also provide wider benefits,” he said.

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Blathnaid O’Dea was a Careers reporter at Silicon Republic until 2024.