What is the IPCC?
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established in the late 80s to provide comprehensive overviews of the state of scientific, technical and socio-economic knowledge about climate change. IPCC is not a collection of individuals, it is an organisation made up of countries. When it comes to research, they are about as transparent as they come. You can find everything on their website, from how the reports are approved, to who wrote them and where.
The IPCC is also not a research organisation – they gather research, but they don’t carry it out themselves. It is a body that evaluates the work carried out by hundreds of scientists globally.
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Also, and this is especially good to remember when it comes to greenwashing, the IPCC does not make any concrete recommendation, they present projections. Anytime you hear someone say that the IPCC dictates a certain type of behaviour it’s probably because they are lying or didn’t understand the report very well. The projections are made for governments across the world can base their climate policies on, they are less so meant as lifestyle guidelines, although they can be used as such, and it would be very beneficial to the planet. I recently saw someone claim online that the IPCC was bribed to remove recommendations about plant-based diets from the report, which I find very hard to believe to be true, especially because “eating more plants” is actually in the report – what I do believe to have happened is that they have stated that they won’t state that a plant-based diet is universally more sustainable because that is not the purpose of the report. It does not mean that science disregards the positive impact of plant-based diets, just that it isn’t the IPCC’s job to recommend it.
How is the IPCC funded?
One critique that is floating around is that the IPCC is funded by lobbyists that they are paid to say certain things or remove certain things from their key findings. The annual budget is between 5 and 8 million euros, I know this because it’s on their website. It is financed by the 195 UN member states that contribute, independently and voluntarily. The authors and members of the IPCC are not paid for their work btw. And either way. I would personally be a lot more terrified of the lobbyists funding fossil fuels than IPCC corruption.
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How does the IPCC pick its sources then?
I have seen so many sceptics claiming that the IPCC cherry-picks only the sources that agree with them, or that they ignore contradictory sources to look better. It’s funny how people who get the majority of their knowledge from blogs with the only source cited is “trust me bro” suddenly know so much about source credibility, but I digress. As long as the study is peer-reviewed and published in a scientific journal, the IPCC considers all studies, even those that seek to challenge the status quo – but among scientists worldwide, there is a consensus that human activities are responsible for climate change, so there.
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So what does the latest IPCC report say?
On Match 20th, the IPCC’s sixth assessment was published, which marked the final instalment of their publications. The report represents 8 years of undertakings from the most authoritative bodies of science. The report draws on the findings of 234 scientists in the physical science of climate change, 270 scientists on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability to climate change, and 278 scientists on climate change mitigation, as such this report is some of the most comprehensive, most available and most credible projections regarding climate change.
it is not the most cheerful reading, to be honest. The report details the consequences of rising greenhouse gas emissions, which means the destruction of homes and habitats, the loss of livelihoods, the fragmentation of communities and the dangers should we fail to change our course.
How the IPCC also highlights actions and potential pathways to reduce the consequences. The report offers readily available means and cost-effective actions that help lower GHG emissions, scale up carbon removal and build resilience. However, one piece of knowledge from the report is overwhelmingly important, and it is that the window in which to act effectively is closing. I am not going to talk you through all of it, I want to highlight 10 key findings, to give you a better overview of what this report is containing.
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- Human-induced global warming of 1.1 degrees C has spurred changes to the Earth’s climate that are unprecedented in recent human history.
- Climate impacts on people and ecosystems are more widespread and severe than expected, and future risks will escalate rapidly with every fraction of a degree of warming.
- Adaptation measures can effectively build resilience, but more finance is needed to scale solutions.
- Some climate impacts are already so severe they cannot be adapted to, leading to losses and damages.
- Global GHG emissions peak before 2025 in 1.5 degrees C-aligned pathways.
- The world must rapidly shift away from burning fossil fuels — the number one cause of the climate crisis.
- We also need urgent, systemwide transformations to secure a net-zero, climate-resilient future.
- Carbon removal is now essential to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C
- Climate finance for both mitigation and adaptation must increase dramatically this decade.
- Climate change — as well as our collective efforts to adapt to and mitigate it — will exacerbate inequity should we fail to ensure a just transition.
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This is just propaganda and fear-mongering?
Now this is terrifying news, there is no way around that. It is completely okay to be angry, scared, or just really pissed. But this is not meant to say that individual action does not matter or that we are all doomed, that is not what the message is, not from me, and not from the IPCC report. I think some people hear the first half of “we’re at 1.1 out of 1.5, we have to act now” and shut it all out. But listen, you also don’t have to take it in. If you’re reducing your own impact, voting green, or making sustainability a part of your daily routine, then you don’t have to take any of this in. the IPCC report is a resource that first and foremost is meant to support climate policies, so if this is too much, then, by all means, focus on the things that motivate you. Now, I find it motivating to seek out knowledge and get an overview of this stuff, and if you are watching this video, my guess is that you feel the same way.
Limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees C is still possible if we act now. This report makes it clear that the world needs to peak GHG emissions before 2025, then nearly halve GHG emissions by 2030 and reach net-zero CO2 emissions around mid-century. If your human brain cannot comprehend the magnitude of that, don’t worry, it’s not supposed to. I can barely imagine what I’ll have for dinner next week. If this report was meant as a tool for consumers and individuals to include in their daily life, then yeah, I would definitely consider it fear mongering, because how the fuck would we do that, but consumer action is not at the centre of climate science, actually, consumer action has very little to do with fossil fuel lobbying, coal investments and climate policies – we drive cars and vote, but these systems are build up around us. This report, these findings are for government bodies to base their climate policies on. Now, are they all going to do that? Probably not, strangely enough actually, because the IPCC report has to be approved by all supporting countries before publication, yet some of the approving counties actively ignore the findings. I said that this is not a report for consumers. But I am not saying that consumers don’t have the power to enforce it. People need to push, more than what’s fair, but as the report also points out. This is a brilliant opportunity to rebuild our societies and systems in a better way, a more effective, green and inclusive way.