Climate Change: “Code Red for Humanity”

This past month the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report with staggering conclusions for all of us, reminding us that we still have time to act to reduce the most oppressive consequences of climate change, and that we must begin immediately.  

The key findings:

  • Climate change is “widespread, rapid and intensifying”
  • Climate change is happening in every region of the world. To see the impact on your region, go to the Interactive Atlas: interactive-atlas.ipcc.ch
  • Many of the changes are irreversible, such as sea level rise
  • The impact of climate change will continue to increase in all regions
  • The impact of climate change on cities is and will continue to be intense

We have time to limit the impact of climate change through “strong and sustained reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHG).” According to the Report, the world has already warmed by 1.1 degrees Celsius. When we reach 1.5 degree Celsius of global warming there will be increasing heatwaves, longer warm seasons and shorter cold seasons. If the temperature rises by 2 degrees Celsius heat extremes “would more often reach critical tolerance thresholds for agriculture and health.”    

The IPCC Report sends an essential signal to the business community that we must halve GHG emissions by 2030. Our response must be “immediate, rapid and large-scale.” Business can take the following actions:

  • Set science-based targets for emissions:

Over 700 companies around the world have set science-based targets, or emissions targets which are aligned with a change of temperature of 1.5 degrees Celsius. These companies include Mahindra, Cemex, and Unilever.

  • Switch to renewable energy, such as solar, wind, geothermal, tidal etc.
  • Find lower-carbon ways to produce goods
  • Commit to Net Zero by 2030 (or cut GHG emissions to zero)
  • Conduct scenario analysis to understand the risks climate change poses to your business

The IPCC was formed in 1988 and is composed of 195 member governments. As such, it represents the community of nations and includes 200 scientists from around the world. The IPPC Report focuses on the scientific, technical, and social-economic aspects of climate change.

The final installment of the report is due out in 2022. In the meantime, the world’s leaders continue to prepare for COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference scheduled to take place between November 1- 12 in Glasgow, presided over by the United Kingdom.

The IPCC’s Vice Chair, Ko Barrett calls for “unprecedented, transformational change.”  The next few months and years will be crucial as we seek to mitigate the impacts of climate change and adapt to our transforming planet.   

For more information on the report, go to https://www.ipcc.ch/.

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