Changes in the climate are widespread, rapid and intensifying and impacts are affecting every region on Earth, including the oceans. Many weather and climate extremes such as heatwaves, heavy rainfall, droughts, and tropical cyclones have become more frequent and severe, according to a report released on Monday that the United Nations calls a “code red for humanity.”
The United Nation's Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released its sixth assessment report -titled 'Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis' - on Monday.
It stated that every region in the world is witnessing irreversible changes in climate due to human influence. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called the IPCC's assessment "code red for humanity".
According to the reports, not only have CO2 concentrations increased in the Earth’s atmosphere, but the rate of the increase has also sped up. The report shows that greenhouse gas emissions from human activities are responsible for approximately 1.1°C of warming since 1850-1900, and finds that averaged over the next 20 years, global temperature is expected to reach or exceed 1.5°C of warming.
Unless there are rapid, sustained and large-scale reductions of climate change-causing greenhouse gas emissions, including CO2, methane and others, the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5C compared to pre-industrial levels, as enshrined in the Paris Agreement, will be beyond reach, the report observed.
“This report is a reality check. We now have a much clearer picture of the past, present and future climate, which is essential for understanding where we are headed, what can be done, and how we can prepare,” said IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair Valérie Masson-Delmotte.
“It has been clear for decades that the Earth’s climate is changing, and the role of human influence on the climate system is undisputed,” added Masson-Delmotte.
“Climate change is already affecting every region on Earth, in multiple ways. The changes we experience will increase with additional warming,” said IPCC Working Group I Co-Chair Panmao Zhai.
“Stabilizing the climate will require strong, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and reaching net zero CO2 emissions. Limiting other greenhouse gases and air pollutants, especially methane, could have benefits both for health and the climate,” said Zhai.
The report projects that in the coming decades climate changes will increase in all regions. For 1.5°C of global warming, there will be increasing heat waves, longer warm seasons and shorter cold seasons. At 2°C of global warming, heat extremes would more often reach critical tolerance thresholds for agriculture and health, the report shows.
"Climate change is bringing multiple different changes in different regions – which will all increase with further warming. These include changes to wetness and dryness, to winds, snow and ice, coastal areas and oceans," the report mentioned.