This is “Code Red for humanity” said the UN’s Secretary-General after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published the first instalment of its Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) on Climate Change on 9 August. This report analyses the state of climate science and its recent advances (‘The Physical Science Basis’). Three other instalments of AR6 will follow in 2022: one on ‘Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability’ (Febr. 2022); one on ‘Mitigation and Climate Change’ (March 2022); and finally the AR6 Synthesis Report (Sept. 2022).

Since the Fifth Assessment Report of 2014, the science of climate change has become much more robust. More than 14,000 peer-reviewed studies were analysed by over 200 climate scientists in the nearly 4,000 pages long (who reads all of them?) report, leading to the conclusion that climate change is man-made (no more doubt there), is already happening now (compared to in the near or long future) and is accelerating. But the report also stresses that it is still possible to prevent the worst outcome, if the global pledges of net-zero carbon emissions become reality.

The main messages of the report are available in different formats. There is the press release (3 pages plus background info), the “Summary for Policymakers” (42 pages) and the “Headline Statements from the Summary for Policymakers” (2 pages with bullet points).

The best summary of the findings of the new IPCC report was produced by the UK-based Carbon Brief website. Worth reading are also the BBC News article ‘Climate change: Five things we have learned from the IPCC report’, the Yale Climate Connections ‘Key takeaways from th new iPCC report’ and the (more technical) RealClimate’s article ‘Deciphering the ‘SPM AR6 WG1’ code’ (which tries to make the Summary for Policymakers more understandable for the layman).

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