In the fight against climate change, we have essentially lost round one. Rising temperatures, sea-level rise and melting ice caps are now irreversible, according to the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).1
Everywhere on earth is now being impacted by climate change, from the ocean depths to the ice caps and everywhere in between. And for the first time, the IPCC states unequivocally that humans are responsible for almost all of it .
United Nations Climate Change Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, has called the latest report “a code red for humanity.” Unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to close to 1.5°C or even 2°C will be beyond reach.2
What does the IPCC report say?
- The Earth’s global surface temperature rose by 1.09°C between 1850-1900 and the last decade.
- 1.07°C of this warming is due to greenhouse gases from human activities.
- Australia’s average temperature has increased by 1.4°C.3
- Temperatures have risen faster in the past 50 years than in any other equivalent period in the last 2000 years.
- The warming has reached ocean depths below 2000m.
- Atmospheric carbon dioxide is increasing four to five times faster now than during the last 56 million years, and 10 times faster than during the past 800,000 years.
While this report is alarming, there is still a window of opportunity to act. If we act now. The more countries, businesses and individuals that reduce carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions before 2030, the more chance we have of averting the most severe impacts of climate change.
World leaders need to do their part and commit to net-zero emissions at the upcoming COP26 summit. Time has run out for complacency and procrastination - we need real, tangible and measurable emissions reduction targets.
You can make a real difference through the choices you make.
Changing to sustainable energy can really move the needle the right way on climate change, because electricity generation is Australia’s biggest greenhouse gas contributor. You can also switch to greener transport options like electric vehicles, public transport or swapping the car for your bike or walking. Take a closer look at your diet and where your food comes from, as well as the waste you are producing. Composting is a great way to reduce methane, another harmful greenhouse gas, from landfill. It’s also great for your garden! Set a good example for your children, as well as family and friends by living more sustainably.
And to get more action from our elected leaders, write to your local state and federal members of parliament to let them know you want a net-zero emissions target confirmed and committed to this November.
1IPCC, 2021: Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, A. Pirani, S. L. Connors, C. Péan, S. Berger, N. Caud, Y. Chen, L. Goldfarb, M. I. Gomis, M. Huang, K. Leitzell, E. Lonnoy, J. B. R. Matthews, T. K. Maycock, T. Waterfield, O. Yelekçi, R. Yu and B. Zhou (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press. In Press
2IPCC. (2021, August 9) Climate change widespread, rapid, and intensifying. [Press Release]. https://www.ipcc.ch/site/assets/uploads/2021/08/IPCC_WGI-AR6-Press-Release_en.pdf
3IPCC, 2021: Regional Fact Sheet Australasia. https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/downloads/factsheets/IPCC_AR6_WGI_Regional_Fact_Sheet_Australasia.pdf