Authored by green guide Larissa Janzen
The state of climate change is in constant flux. With an ever-changing Earth system and rapid gain of new knowledge, we must remain adamant in assessing the current state, and our progress in fighting global warming. The state of global climate change is continuously evaluated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). In this blog post, we focus on how the IPCC reports work and a brief summary of the key findings from the 6th Assessment Report of the first working group addressing scientific knowledge of the climate system. Remember to follow us next month, where we examine the impacts and risks of humankind!
What is the IPCC?
The IPCC is a partnership between scientists and policymakers. It was created in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) with the objective to provide current scientific information to governments in relation to the development of effective climate policies. As such, the IPCC provides regular assessments of the scientific knowledge of climate change, its impacts, and risks as well as adaptation and mitigation possibilities.
The IPCC consists of three working groups and one Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories. The working groups contribute to the IPCC reports which are published every 5-7 years. The reports which are written by volunteering experts in climate change science constitute a comprehensive assessment of the current knowledge about climate change, its causes, and potential impacts as well as possibilities to react to developments associated with climate change. Hence, the IPCC does not conduct research itself but identifies agreement and disagreement in the scientific community and needs for future research. The sixth assessment report is published in 2021-2022 consisting of three reports from the three working groups, a synthesis report, and three special reports on global warming, climate change and land as well as the ocean and cryosphere in a changing climate.
Working Group I: The Physical Science Basis of Climate Change
The report addresses the up-to-date scientific knowledge of the climate system and climate change from a physical understanding. It discusses the current state of the climate, possible climate futures, climate information for risk assessment and regional adaptation, as well as effects of limiting future climate change. Some of the key findings in this report are the following:
- By now it is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean, and land causing rapid changes in the climate system, the scale of which are unprecedented over many centuries.
- The global surface temperatures will increase until at least mid-century in all modeled emission scenarios leading to many changes that are irreversible for centuries if not millennia to come. The warming targets of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century if no significant reductions in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are achieved.
- Increasing global warming accelerates changes in the climate system while the continuation of global warming intensifies the global water cycle. Additionally, the ocean and land carbon sinks become less effective at slowing CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere.
- Although natural drivers are likely to modulate human-caused changes, especially on a regional level, changes in climatic impact drivers will increase in occurrence depending on the global warming projected.
If you want to learn more about how our planet is changing, and what you can do about it, follow us on a tour in Copenhagen, Berlin, or Malmö! Here, we address exactly these issues discussed in the IPCC reports, and we discuss how they relate to the cities we live in. Find our tours at https://greenbiketours.org/.