The latest IPCC report: What is it and why does it matter?
The UN's climate panel, IPCC, has published a new climate report which - again - describes the gloomy state and grim prognosis of the climate. What does it tell us and why does it matter? We asked climate professor Sebastian Mernild, head of the SDU Climate Cluster and lead author of the IPCC's sixth report.
What do you consider highlights in the report?
First, that global warming will continue. The report predicts an increase of 1.5 degrees before the beginning of the 2030’s, and that is new, compared to the previous report, which estimated that an increase of 1.5 degrees would be reached at some point between 2021 and 2040.
Second, that every time the global temperature rises by half a degree, it will cause noticeable changes in the weather. It is, for example, "very likely" that extreme heat will become more frequent. It is also "highly likely" that extreme rain will become more frequent.
Third, that over the past 10 years, global emissions of greenhouse gases have increased and warming is occurring at an unprecedented rate over a 2000-year perspective. The global surface temperature in 2021-2022 was 1.1 degrees warmer than in 1850-1900. It is unequivocal that the warming is caused by the emission of greenhouse gases from human activities.
Fourth, that both the atmosphere, the oceans and the land are getting warmer.
About IPCC's reports
- Since 1990, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, has published climate reports every 5-7 years, and now the sixth synthesis report is out.
- As a synthesis report, it summarizes and collates the most important findings of the previous reports in the Sixth Assessment Cycle and provides an interdisciplinary presentation of the causes of climate change, its effects and proposals for solutions and means of action.
These are just examples of how our climate system has changed and what we can expect to see in the decades to come.
There is no doubt that on the one hand we must act quickly and effectively politically, on the other hand we must give more impetus to the implementation of new technologies, as well as to the developing of new technologies.
Greenhouse gases must be reduced og captured and stored. If not, we know very well what the climate consequences will be in the decades to come.
Is there anything in the sixth synthesis report that we didn't already know?
The previous report estimated that we would hit a temperature rise of 1.5 degrees at some point between 2021 and 2040. With the new report, that time is brought forward to the beginning of the 2030’s.
We are therefore in the situation that during the next 10 years, we must expect an increase of 1.5 degrees, and thus the Paris Agreement is challenged. That is quite interesting.
With the Paris Agreement, 196 states agreed to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees. That limit will be crossed very soon.
There is no doubt that on the one hand we must act quickly and effectively politically, on the other hand we must give more impetus to the implementation of new technologies, as well as to the developing of new technologies
What can we use the report for?This report is an update and presentation of the latest science, where parallels are also drawn across previous IPCC reports. The updates must be used in the upcoming political negotiations under the auspices of the COP.
This report is important when it comes to giving our politicians and decision-makers an understanding of the climate's development.
How do you think the climate will be in 50 years?In five decades we will live in a warmer world. A world with more climate extremes and with rising sea levels.
Geographically, our globe will be challenged; some areas will be significantly drier and others significantly wetter. It will be a challenge for people to live in those places. This is something we have to get used to.
Meet the researcher
Sebastian Mernild is a climate professor, head of the SDU Climate Cluster and lead author of the IPCC's sixth report.