From extreme flooding in China and Germany to wildfires in Lebanon, the US, Greece and Turkey, this summer has been a wake-up call for many when it comes to the climate crisis. Now, a terrifying new report from the United Nations’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has reiterated that time is running out – with leading scientists declaring that many changes caused by global greenhouse gas emissions are already “irreversible”.
Described as a “code red for humanity”, this latest warning from scientists demonstrates the urgent action that’s required to tackle the climate crisis. Here, we round up five key things you need to know about the landmark IPCC report, including what needs to be done to address the ecological emergency we’re facing.
Climate change is unequivocally caused by humans
There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind now that climate change is caused by human activity: namely, the vast amounts of greenhouse gas emissions we are putting into the atmosphere via the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation and other industrial activity.
Temperatures are set to rise by 1.5°C by 2040
Scientists say that temperatures will rise by 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels within the next two decades under all scenarios – a rise that will have devastating impacts globally and lead to an increase in the extreme weather events we’ve seen of late. It’s worth noting that temperatures have already risen by 1.1°C, with the past five years being the hottest on record.
Global warming is on course to rise beyond 2°C during the 21st-century
Even worse than that, scientists warn that temperatures are set to rise beyond 2°C compared to pre-industrial levels, unless there are significant cuts to greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, the Paris Agreement – signed by more than 190 countries around the world – has set a target of keeping global warming to “well below 2°C globally”, as a rise by this much would have catastrophic effects on the planet.
Climate change is leading to extreme weather in every region of the world
While there has been some reluctance in the past to link extreme weather to global warming, scientists say there is evidence to show that human-induced climate change is indeed leading to more frequent and intense heatwaves, rainfall, droughts, and tropical cyclones globally.
We can still keep global warming to 1.5°C
Although this latest report will set alarm bells ringing, scientists say that keeping global warming to 1.5°C is still possible if we can drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and get to net zero emissions by 2050. The most important takeaway being? It’s not too late to take action, but we need to do it now.
Originally published on Vogue.co.uk