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The IPCC Synthesis Report: 3 Big Takeaways

On March 20, 2023, the IPCC released it summary report on its findings over the past five years with more than 1400 scientists around the world.

IPCC Summary AR6 3/23
Here are 3 key takeaways:

1. Climate change is real & primarily caused by human activities.

The report begins with the following conclusion:

“Human activities, principally through emissions of greenhouse gases, have unequivocally caused global warming, with global surface temperature reaching 1.1°C above 1850-1900 in 2011-2020. Global greenhouse gas emissions have continued to increase, with unequal historical and ongoing contributions arising from unsustainable energy use, land use and land-use change, lifestyles and patterns of consumption and production across regions, between and within countries, and among individuals.”

There is now overwhelming scientific data and consensus that the climate crisis is caused by humans and primarily our energy choices by burning fossil fuels. We aren't doing enough to reduce warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius and much of the world is already experiencing harm from climate-fueled disasters. ThW

2. We CAN combat climate change, but we're running out of time. Our choices now will impact the present and the future for thousands of years.

The report rings the alarm (with very high confidence) that "There is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all."


One of the key "headline statements" from the summary report is this chilling, concise statement:

The choices and actions implemented in this decade will have impacts now and for thousands of years.

The report authors then share this graph of future scenarios depending on whether we take decisive, global action on climate change, including moving to a clean energy economy and phasing out fossil fuels as soon as possible. This graph puts in stark relief what we've been saying at OneGreenThing for a long time. We need to start thinking of ourselves as awesome ancestors. Our decisions now -- individually and collectively -- we create possibilities for our future loved ones.

Take a close look at this graph:

The extent to which current and future generations will experience a hotter and different world depends on choices now and in the near-term
IPCC Summary Report image 1(c) 2023

3. The three biggest solutions are: phasing out fossil fuels, protecting ecosystems, and financing the clean energy transition rapidly and justly to protect the most vulnerable.

The good news is that we have the technology to fight climate change and we know whata the solutions are. The report calls for a fast transition to clean energy economy and for the first time, a clear call to phase out fossil fuels. We know what the climate solutions are, but we must move quickly to make a difference. Specially, the IPCC calls for:

"a substantial reduction in overall fossil fuel use, minimal use of unabated fossil fuels, and use of carbon capture and storage in the remaining fossil fuel systems; electricity systems that emit no net CO2; widespread electrification; alternative energy carriers in applications less amenable to electrification; energy conservation and efficiency; and greater integration across the energy system.”

With respect to protecting ecosystems, the IPCC makes clear that deforestation and desertification are making the climate crisis worse. It's time to invest in conservation, sustainable agriculture, and nature-based solutions, and people to protect the planet and our livelihoods.

Finally, the IPCC remains commitment to the need to INVEST in climate solutions and in areas hit hardest by the climate crisis now. Termed "climate resilience," we must provide considerable financing to the Global South in particular to address the impacts of climate catastrophe right now and help prepare for a rapidly warming world.

In the IPCC Summary report press release, the Panel reinforced that we CAN still do this:

“Mainstreaming effective and equitable climate action will not only reduce losses and damages for nature and people, it will also provide wider benefits,” said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee. “This Synthesis Report underscores the urgency of taking more ambitious action and shows that, if we act now, we can still secure a liveable sustainable future for all.”

Making climate action mainstream will take all of us. That's where individual action comes in to help address this global problem.

What you do, what you talk about, and how you take action helps create culture change in your community. You CAN make a difference.

Here's some #onegreenthings & how you can help by Service Superpower:

  • Adventurers: Talk about climate change with the people you love and the impact you're seen on the natural areas that inspire you. Watch this TED talk from Dr. Katherine Hayhoe to underscore how important these climate conversations are.

  • Beacons: Tell your friends and family about the need for climate action and help them understand that the people hardest hit by climate pollution are hurt the most. Follow the Intersectional Environmentalist to learn more.

  • Influencers: Watch Extrapolations, the bracing new drama by TV producer Scott Z Burns. Featuring Meryl Streep, David Diggs, Diane Lane, Ed Norton and many other notable actors, this mini-series envisions a future where climate disaster is embedded in our daily lives. Don't have AppleTV+? Use this link for a free trial to watch the series.

  • Sages: Check out my TED Talk "Think Like an Awesome Ancestor: A Daily Practice to Ease Eco-Anxiety" and contemplate how you can incorporate a daily practice of sustainability into your life.

  • Philanthropists: Check out the League of Conservations Voters scorecard to learn more about how your elected vote on climate issues and vow to support candidates that align with strong environmental protection.

  • Sparks: Sign up for the OneGreenThing newsletter and share with your friends. Remind your colleagues that individual action drives culture change, which is why we all matter in climate action.

  • Wonks: Call your member of Congress about the importance of the Inflation Reduction Act and support for broad climate policy to support our international commitments. Not sure how to reach your MOC? Call the Congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121, enter your zip code, and they'll connect you.


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