07 Sep Latest assessment on climate change
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published their sixth report in early August on the state of global climate science, providing a comprehensive and detailed analysis of our current climate system and rate of climate change. This assessment brings together advances and developments in climate science to give an in-depth observation of the physical state of our Earth and to allow policy makers to make informed decisions as we look to slow global warming.
Experts in the field of climate change and environmental systems, as well as governmental bodies, collaborated on the production of assessment reports, ensuring these reports reached the highest standards of scientific excellence. In order to achieve accuracy and balance, hundreds of international reviewers critiqued the scientific assessment across first and second draft stages. These assessment reports are released every six to seven years, with the Fifth Assessment Report providing significant input into the Paris Agreement in 2014.
The assessment is separated into a Summary for Policymakers (39 pages), Technical Summary (150 pages) and the Full Report (~1300 pages).
Key findings related to the food system and agriculture include:
- Global warming is occurring at a faster rate than previously thought. 1 degree of warming has already occurred, with the safe limit of 1.5 to be surpassed in the next two decades. This has seen climate change quickly move from a future occurrence, to today.
- An increasing focus on methane, nitrous oxide and ammonia has suggested the reduction of short-lived gases (primarily from agriculture) will be critical to slow immediate warming.
- Scientific links can now be made between specific weather events and human-made climate change. Such weather events have been seen worldwide, including extreme precipitation events and prolonged dry spells that both impact on our agricultural systems.
- It is projected that once we hit zero emissions, global warming will stabilize within a couple of decades. Sea level rises, and some other effects, will remain irreversible for centuries.
This report reflects the fact our time has run out to avoid the impacts of climate change. We must now explore options of adaptation in our agricultural systems, while also looking to lessen the brunt of what global warming may cause in future. This IPCC assessment acts as the first part of the analysis, with subsequent reports due in early 2022 that will consider how we can adapt to impacts and avoid worst case scenarios.
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