‘Code red for humanity’? A Summary of the 2021 IPCC Report.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have released part of its Sixth Assessment Report this week, which details the current state of the global climate crisis.

Since the release of the report, the bleak findings are ‘a code red for humanity’, as described by UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres.

Here, we are providing a summary of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly news outlined in the report, including their recommended actions as well as actions we recommend you take that can help improve the climate crisis.


The Good:

  • Deliberate removal of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere could reverse some aspects of climate change. This will only happen… if deliberate removals are larger than our emissions.
  • Climate change trends, such as the increase in global surface temperate, would start to reverse within a few years if CO2 was removed from the atmosphere.
  • The climate models have improved since the last IPCC report as they have higher spatial resolutions which allows scientists to understand what the global climate impacts will look like in different parts of the world.

– More data and information on regional changes allow for clearer and more effective solutions.

  • A strong and rapid reduction in methane emissions, such as aerosols and particulate matter, would not only curb global warming, but also improve air quality.


The Bad:

  • Temperatures are predicted to reach 1.5c by 2040, and 2.3c by the turn of the century.
  • “It is more likely than not” that temperatures will rise 1.5c above pre-industrial levels sometime over the next 20 years.
  • Climate scientists are “virtually certain” that heatwaves (key factor in wildfires) are more frequent and intense than the 1950’s.

– Some recent examples of extreme heat, such as those causing chaos with wildfires in Greece and heatwaves in the U.S Pacific Northwest, would have been “extremely unlikely to occur” without the climate crisis.

  • Atmospheric carbon dioxide at its highest level in 2 million years.

– This results in the extreme rise of the Earth’s temperature and contributes to respiratory diseases from smog and air pollution.

  • In addition to cutting Co2 emission, “Strong, rapid and sustained reductions” in methane is required, with most of the contribution sourced from agriculture and fossil fuel production.
  • Methane holds 80 times the global warming capability than CO2 and is at its highest level in 800,000 years.
  • There is an average of 20cm rise in sea levels.
  • Further increases in extreme weather is predicted with heatwaves, droughts, flooding, and hurricanes becoming more common.


The Ugly:

  • We are approaching the threshold for reverting damage caused by climate change; action is required immediately. “As today’s report makes clear, there is no time for delay and no room for excuses”. Warnings of reaching these non-reversible thresholds is the primary takeaway from the report.
  • Human activities are undisputedly causing climate change and are the primary factor for worsening heat levels.


How do we combat The Bad and The Ugly?

The IPCC report outlines the necessary actions that are needed for communities and government bodies to participate in to reduce the impact we are having on the climate crisis. We have also listed a few ideas of how we can start reducing our own personal carbon emissions today.


Practical actions outlined in the report:

1.     Shifting to low- or zero-emission power generation, such as renewables.

2.    Changing food systems, such as diet changes away from land-intensive animal products.

3.    Electrifying transport and developing ‘green infrastructure, such as building green roofs, or improving energy efficiency by smart urban planning.

Actions we can take today:

  • Reduce CO2 emissions at home by improving your home’s insulation which will reduce the amount of fuel needed to heat them.
  • Need a new boiler or central heating? Think about switching to a heat pump: find out about available grants
  • Generate electricity on site using solar panels: find out about available grants
  • Switch to LED bulbs as they use less energy.
  • Get a smart meter to maximise your efficiency.
  • Avoid plastic packaging to prevent adding to landfill.
  • Reduce, or cut out meat consumption.
  • Shop locally and organically.
  • Reduce food waste.
  • Using public transport instead of individual travel.
  • Offset your emissions using organisations such as the Carbon Fund.
  • Moving to a hybrid or electric vehicle

The specific climate impacts, and plans to mitigate them, will be released by the IPCC in reports next year: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/sixth-assessment-report-working-group-3/.

We’re here to help you, your business and your suppliers achieve real net zero. Our team at SustainIt action real change using data – get in touch for more information.