Words by Éloïse Armary, Artist Focus Editor
The IPCC’s 2022 Climate Change report is ‘an atlas for human suffering’, as it warns of irreversible damages and a closing window for actions that will keep global warming under 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is composed of the world’s climate scientists who are charged to regularly produce reports to inform government policy making. Each report comes in four parts, every five to seven years, since 1987. Starting from 2021, the sixth wave of reports is coming out since the last one published in 2014.
Of the selected experts, 44% come from developing countries and countries with economies in transition, 53% are new to the IPCC process and 33% are women.
On February 28th 2022, the second part of the latest report came out, which assesses the effects of climate change and how humanity can adapt to them.
The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called the report ‘an atlas for human suffering’.
Global temperatures currently stand around 1.1C above pre-industrial levels. To mitigate the loss and damage from climate change, scientists advise staying under 1.5C of global warming.
However, the report states that ‘it is more likely than not’ that the world will reach 1.5C in the next twenty years.
If temperatures rise to between 1.7 and 1.8C, half of the human population could live in a life-threatening climate due to heat and humidity.
The Global South is the most affected by climate change. Between 2010 and 2020, 15 times more people died from floods, droughts and storms in parts of Africa, South Asia, Central and South America than in other parts of the world.
For the first time in an IPCC report, the link between the climate crisis and poor mental health was established. It states that extreme weather events and lost livelihoods cause trauma, especially in children.
Unmitigated global warming leads to significant food shortages. Each tenth of a degree matters. Even if the world is below 1,6*C by 2100, 8% of today’s farmland will become unsuitable.
The protection of wild places and wildlife is key to feeding humanity as the ability to produce food relies on the water, soils and pollination. To this day, half of the species studies have been forced to move. 14% of species are threatened by extinction by 1.5C of global warming, and up to 29% if the world warms by 3C. Today, less than 15% of land, 21% of freshwater and 8% of oceans are protected areas, and some regions, like the Amazon, have switched from storing carbon to emitting it.
The UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres states that the report is a ‘damning indictment of failed climate leadership’.
Guterres said “The facts are undeniable. This abdication of leadership is criminal. The world’s biggest polluters are guilty of arson of our only home.”
The report is critical of technology to mitigate global warming such as deflecting the sun’s rays or removing carbon dioxide from the air, arguing that they could make things worse.
Instead, it focuses on ‘climate resilient development’, which helps societies cope with the effects of climate change.Professor O’Neill, an IPCC coordinator lead author says that “if it’s a world where we are really making rapid progress on education and health and poverty, if climate change is imposed on that society, the risk will be much lower’’.