Climate Corner: Climate CRISIS

Mar 25, 2023

Giulia Mannarino

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was created in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Program. Its objective is to provide governments at all levels with scientific information that can be used to develop climate policies.

Since its creation, the IPCC has delivered Assessment Reports, the most comprehensive scientific reports about climate change produced worldwide that have fed directly into international policy making. These reports have provided regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts, future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation that can reduce those risks. But the IPCC does not conduct its own research. Hundreds of experts in different fields from all over the world volunteer their time and expertise to produce IPCC reports. Thousands more contribute to the review process and to the literature and other knowledge that are assessed in the reports.

None of these scientists are paid by the IPCC. In 1990, the First IPCC Assessment Report (FAR) underlined the importance of climate change as a challenge with global consequences and requiring international cooperation.

On March 20, 2023, the latest Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) was issued and the information it contains on the current status of climate change, its impacts and risks is not good. According to the report, the world is on track to face catastrophic warming. It warns the exceeding 1.5 degrees C of warming (known as “overshoot”) has dangerous and irreversible consequences, even if temperatures might later be brought back below that level.

The report also contains information on the options to adapt to and confront the crisis in the critical years ahead. Fortunately, the report determined world leaders already have the necessary tools to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and save lives. A rapid phaseout of fossil fuels, accompanied by a roll out of renewable energy, is the clearest and most certain path to avoid overshoot.

The authors of the report hope it will give guidance for political leaders who will gather later this year for international negotiations on how to limit emissions. On announcing the report, U.N.’s Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stated, “The climate’s timebomb is ticking, but today’s IPCC report is a how-to-guide to diffuse the climate timebomb. It is a survival guide for humanity.” The IPCC’s website urges all policymakers to read this report carefully as they consider future actions.

Yet, leading scientists predict that by 2030, the world is on track to produce 110% more fossil fuels than the world can ever burn; with the U.S. leading the world in its extraction and export. Congress and President Biden have been focused on policies that reduce the demand for fossil fuels, like the Inflation Reduction Act, but they haven’t been working on the cause of climate change–fossil fuels.

Despite the science and the universal agreement on the problem, the U.S. continues to permit new fossil fuel projects like the large Willow Arctic oil project, the Mountain Valley fracked gas pipeline, the possibility of another version of Manchin’s “dirty deal” to expedite fossil fuel expansion via “permitting reform” and more. But to truly stop the climate crisis, we must also control the supply of fossil fuels. The IPCC has clearly and repeatedly rung the alarm bells that staying below the 1.5 degrees C goal is vital to protect people and the planet.

They have also been equally clear that achieving that goal requires immediate and rapid action to phase out fossil fuels. Both the supply and demand side of climate action must be tackled. Fossil fuel expansion is incompatible with that 1.5 degrees C goal. The recent report is unequivocal about our best chance at a liveable future. A livable future for all will not be achievable if we fail to act on the latest and most urgent alarms sounded last week by the IPCC.

The clock is ticking and there is no time to waste on false solutions. Climate action must be ambitious, focus on real solutions and center climate justice and human rights. Believe the science and scientists NOT the disinformation of the fossil fuel industry that continues to put profits above the future of the Earth and the Earthlings who reside upon it. Every one must urge government officials at all levels to enact policies and programs that will end the era of fossil fuels because the climate CRISIS is now here.