Scientists have delivered a definitive and damning snapshot of our planet’s climate in what’s been dubbed the ‘final warning’ report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

What is this new climate report?

Monday’s report is the sixth assessment laid out by the IPCC which has spent the last eight years working with 270 experts from around the world.

They’ve been analysing the speed in which our planet is warming, what the impacts will be and what we can do to slow it down. 

It’s a massive body of work and lays out the framework for how humanity can avoid the worst impacts of climate change.   

What has it found?

It says man-made climate change is causing extreme weather events in every corner of the world, including an increase in frequency and severity of extreme weather events such as cyclones and droughts.

Scientists say our actions have led to a 1.1°C increase in global surface temperatures, and we are on track to surpass 2°C this century, with some people likely to be affected more than others.

“Vulnerable communities who have historically contributed the least to current climate change are disproportionately affected,” it says. 

The report says more extreme weather events are likely unavoidable and even though there is a small opportunity to start limiting them, time is running out. 

What can we do about it?

Drastically and quickly cutting back emissions is the only way to avoid devastating weather events and ecosystem disruption. 

The IPCC authors remain steadfast that the only real solution is to achieve net-zero carbon emissions, which means we produce the same amount of emissions the planet can process.

All scenarios that limit warming beneath 2°C require the whole planet to get their emissions to almost net-zero immediately. 

It says humanity does have the know-how to dramatically claw back emissions with plans and actions happening across a broad range of industries. But the changes aren’t happening fast enough.

Adaptation is not the answer either. The IPCC report’s authors say many of the adaptation techniques we are using now will become useless when the planet gets much warmer. 

Achieving net-zero in time to avoid surpassing 2°C will require full commitment from governments and industries around the world, with resources directed to developing and implementing technologies which reduce and mitigate warming.

How has NZ’s government responded?

Our Prime Minister Chris Hipkins says he is focused on running a responsible government but there is still “a lot more work to be done”.

Speaking on TVNZ’s Breakfast, both he and Climate Change Minister James Shaw said the current government has done more to reduce emissions than any other in the past 30 years.

“I don’t accept that we are lagging behind. I accept that we’ve got a big challenge ahead”, Hipkins said. 

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