The Working Group II Contribution to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report

On 28th February 2022 the IPCC published Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability The Working Group II contribution to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report. But no one noticed, including me, because Russia had just invaded Ukraine. I've quoted the most important findings below.

It's really critical to remember that the report is the work of hundreds of UN-appointed scientists reviewing tens of thousands of scientific papers, the work of thousands of other scientists. Furthermore, the quotes below don't come from a news headline about a single study. The IPCC is thorough and cautious, summarising the medium expected outcomes based on all climate research ever done. They are often criticised for understating the latest science. because they wait for other studies to confirm it. I mean: the true situation might be even worse than the report says!

Prefer to watch a video? Try IPCC Climate Last Warning (30 mins) by Peter Carter, one of the report authors.

Or maybe a podcast? See The 'unequivocal' consequences of climate change from the BBC's The Climate Question.

Then scroll down to How Can We Stop This Happening?

From the Press Release:

"The scientific evidence is unequivocal: climate change is a threat to human wellbeing and the health of the planet. Any further delay in concerted global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future"
"Human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world"
"This report is a dire warning about the consequences of inaction"
"The world faces unavoidable multiple climate hazards over the next two decades with global warming of 1.5°C. Even temporarily exceeding this warming level will result in additional severe impacts, some of which will be irreversible."
"Increased heatwaves, droughts and floods ... have exposed millions of people to acute food and water insecurity"
"To avoid mounting loss of life, biodiversity and infrastructure, ambitious, accelerated action is required to [make] rapid, deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions."
"Half measures are no longer an option."
"Climate Resilient Development is already challenging at current warming levels... In some regions it will be impossible if global warming exceeds 2°C"

The Summary For Policy Makers admits that we're probably going to exceed 1.5°C of warming, even with the fastest possible emissions reductions, which we're way off making:

"there is at least a greater than 50% likelihood that global warming will reach or exceed 1.5°C in the near-term, even for the very low greenhouse gas emissions scenario" (page SPM-7)

As we warm the planet, we know there's a tipping point, that if we exceed it, we won't be able to get back and we'll end up 10°C warmer in what's called Greenhouse Earth. But we don't know at what temperature that tipping point kicks in. The Summary For Policy Makers explains:

"Risk of severe impacts increase with every additional increment of global warming during overshoot (high confidence). In high-carbon ecosystems (currently storing 3,000 to 4,000 GtC) 39 such impacts are already observed and are projected to increase with every additional increment of global warming, such as increased wildfires, mass mortality of trees, drying of peatlands, and thawing of permafrost, weakening natural land carbon sinks and increasing releases of greenhouse gases (medium confidence). The resulting contribution to a potential amplification of global warming indicates that a return to a given global warming level or below would be more challenging (medium confidence)."

They mean for example: the Amazon dries out, burns down and ends up as savannah; the snow and ice in the Arctic melt and a lot less sunlight is reflected back into space.

From the Full Report on page 5-32 (PDF page 857 of 3675):

"global yield losses of rice, maize, and wheat are projected to increase by 10-25% per degree of warming"

(I was shocked that this wasn't included in the Summary for Policy Makers.)

From FAQ 1: What are the new insights on climate impacts, vulnerability and adaptation from IPCC?:

"in order to meet the Paris Agreement ... it is clear now that minor, marginal, reactive or incremental changes won't be sufficient"

From FAQ 3: How will climate change affect the lives of today's children tomorrow, if no immediate action is taken?:

"Globally, the percentage of the population exposed to deadly heat stress is projected to increase from today's 30% to 48-76% by the end of the century, depending on future warming levels and location."
"Globally, 800 million to 3 billion people are projected to experience chronic water scarcity due to droughts at 2°C warming, and up to approximately 4 billion at 4°C warming"

The population of Africa in 2050 is projected to be 2.5bn. What happens in Europe when millions need to migrate north?

From Fact sheet - Europe:

"Substantive agricultural production losses are projected for most European areas over the 21st century, which will not be offset by gains in Northern Europe (high confidence)"

How Can We Stop This Happening?

Please be very worried that the UK government is driving the car off a cliff and you, I and all our children, nephews, nieces, grandchildren are in the car.

Please be depressed and saddened that our government is doing practically nothing to stop this happening.

Please get furious that most of the technologies to solve this problem already exist and work at scale but the UK government is pushing ahead new oilfields.

Please take action to press the government:

  • To maximise renewable energy production in the UK
  • To insulate and install heat pumps for 20m UK homes
  • To install and maintain charging points for 30m electric vehicles
  • To end fossil-fuel production in the UK

The UK government's event horizon stretches about as far as the next election. Their climate strategy is to ignore the problem and hope you don't notice. If more people knew what is coming down the track, the government might not survive to the next election.

It won't take that many people causing disruption to make the government realise that it's in their own self-interest to switch from blah-blah-blah to enacting real change. There are limits to the number of peaceful protesters that the police can arrest and the courts can process. Plus when juries hear the climate evidence in trials, they have been acquitting the protesters.

  • To make the biggest difference please sign up with https://juststopoil.org/ to join disruptive protests.
  • If you're not ready to risk arrest but want to support those who are and express your disgust at what the government is doing / not doing, please show your solidarity by protesting with https://extinctionrebellion.uk/ in central London.
  • Please share this page with your friends.
  • Ask me if you need help or advice taking action: .

Your Questions Answered

"We should reduce dependence on Russia by fracking in the UK" - this is like signing our own death warrant, while bringing the date forward then boasting that we've signed it with British ink.

"The UK has legislated to hit Net-Zero by 2050" - true but nothing further has been done; eg in October 2021 the UK government announced grants for 90,000 homes to install heat pumps over 3 years - at that rate it will take 700+ years to upgrade all UK homes; in March 2022 they announced 300,000 electric car charging points by 2030 - at that rate it will take 80 years for 1 charging point for every 10 cars.

"The protesters are work-shy / trustafarian / eco-terrorists / extremists" - no, you will find thousands of ordinary people who are crapping themselves because they understand what's coming unless we stop warming the planet.

"This won't affect us in the UK" - that depends how badly climate change trashes food production - see Are We All Going To Die? We owe it to our children to do a lot more than hope and pray.

"What about China?" - some of what China is doing puts us to shame: they generate more renewable energy than Europe and the US combined - see What About China?

"What about the rest of the world?" - if we can achieve radical change in the UK that will pave the way for equally terrified people overseas to force the same to happen in other democracies.

"It would be hypocritical of me to protest" - my daughter needs a liveable planet; she needs you to persuade the government to make the systemic changes required now for us each to go net-zero; even if you love flying, we need your help to press for Carbon-Neutral Flying.

"New technology will solve the problem" - it needs to be ready to work at scale in the next few years, and there's no sign of that; plus it will need to be powered by huge amounts of non-fossil energy, which is better used first to replace existing fossil fuels and prevent CO₂ levels rising any further.

Credits

Thanks to my friends Iain Webb, for alerting me to the new IPCC report, and Jon Woolf, for reminding me of the cautiousness of the IPCC.



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