Leaked Draft of UN Report Warns of Accelerating Climate Devastation
A draft report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been leaked, and it paints a brand-new picture of just how drastically the climate crisis will impact life on Planet Earth.
Still only a draft and thus open to edits, this is the IPCC's most extensive and shocking report yet. As reported in Aljazeera:
Species extinction, more widespread disease, unliveable heat, ecosystem collapse, cities menaced by rising seas -- these and other devastating climate effects are accelerating and are bound to become painfully obvious before a child born today turns 30.
The report outlines consequences of climate change that are more severe than the committee had previously predicted. According to the report, the 2015 Paris Agreement's goal to keep the global temperature increase below 2 degrees Celsius is nowhere near ambitious enough. The draft states that even at 1.5 degrees of warming, Indigenous populations in the Arctic will face cultural extinction, extreme weather events will become more frequent and severe, and poverty will increase along with water scarcity and food insecurity. Current trends suggest we are on track for at least 2.9 degrees of warming, which would only escalate such consequences.
Aljazeera also reports: "Last month, the World Meteorological Organization projected a 40% chance that Earth will cross the 1.5-degree threshold for at least one year by 2026."
TED: Johan Rockström, October 15, 2020.
Why This Matters
A final draft is still in the works, and according to François Gemenne, a climate scientist involved in the writing of the IPCC report, it would be a mistake for policymakers to focus on the unfinished statistical "key messages" prior to completion. The final report is due for release in February 2022, long after the conclusion of COP26.
The main takeaway at this time is that climate tipping points, as often discussed by scientists, will occur sooner than previously thought. And regardless of whether the details are fleshed out as of yet -- the draft suggests that policy decisions in the lead-up to COP26 should be approached with urgency.
Have a Little Hope
While the IPCC draft emphasizes the fact that climate change is the greatest challenge humanity has ever had to face, it also stresses that actions can still be taken to prevent worst-case scenarios. According to the report, "we need transformational change operating on processes and behaviors at all levels: individual, communities, business, institutions and governments … We must redefine our way of life and consumption."
The Guardian: Climate Crisis - One Month of Flash Floods, Wildfires and Heatwaves, July 29, 2021.
PBS: A leaked UN report warns 'worst is yet to come' on climate change, June 23, 2021.
Amanpour and Company (PBS): The Great Climate Migration Has Begun, May 24, 2021.