What a ‘code red for humanity’ means for our climate
Thursday 19th of August 2021
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Recently, global climate news has been focussed on the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This report identifies the issues a changing climate present and what they mean for our future.

We’ve looked at the report’s findings and discussed ways that we can all contribute to making a difference. But first, some background information on who the IPCC is and what makes this report so important.

 

Who is the IPCC?

The IPCC is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) in 1988. Its goal is to provide policy makers across the globe with accurate information about the climate and identify the state of knowledge surrounding climate change and its impacts.

The IPCC assessment reports are released approximately every seven years and in 2021, their sixth assessment report was published. Worked on by climate scientists from across the globe, their latest report saw contributions from 234 scientists from 66 countries.

 

What does the 2021 report say?

In his statement following the release of the report, Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres described it as a “code red for humanity”.

Climate change is now happening more rapidly than ever before, and at a rate faster than scientists anticipated. This is impacting extreme weather events across the globe with an increase in floods, bushfires, and the prolonged impact of drought.

Essentially, the report estimates that we are going to reach 1.5C of global warming sometime in the next decade. This rise is calculated in comparison to the average temperature in ‘pre-industrial’ times, telling us that the human influence on climate change is no longer in question.

In response to the report, Greenfleet CEO, Wayne Wescott said, “the debate is over. We know that human influence has now unequivocally warmed the planet. We must accept the reality of the situation and then take action.

While climate change is worsening, the good news is that climate science is getting better and more precise. Now, the data around this issue is established and we have a better understanding of the state of the climate and what we need to do improve it.

There is a window of time now that humans can positively alter the path we are on. Decisions we make today can help reduce temperatures into the future, even after we have hit the anticipated 1.5C of warming. Emissions must be reduced and there has to be a commitment to making change on a global scale.

 

Where do we go from here?

The report made clear that human induced climate change has now impacted every continent on Earth, but it also provided hope that change is possible. While it is easy to feel despair in the face of news such as this, the fact is that each and every one of us can be a part of the solution.

Through the sustained reduction of emissions into our atmosphere, air quality could improve, temperatures could stabilise, and we could make a difference for the planet.

If you are looking for practical ways that you can make a positive change, consider the following:

  • Reduce your environmental impact as much as you can through your travel, diet, purchase decisions, and household.
  • Use your vote to advocate for stronger climate policy that will help achieve the targets needed to improve the climate outlook.
  • Assess whether you’re investing your super into an ethical fund
  • Offset the emissions you can’t avoid with Greenfleet through native reforestation.

Greenfleet is Australia’s first carbon offset provider, and since 1997, we have planted more than 9.6 million native trees across 500 forests in Australia and New Zealand. As these forests grow, they will capture more than 3.5 million tonnes of CO2-e, actively drawing down carbon in the atmosphere and fighting the impacts of climate change.

 

There is no doubt that the IPCC’s latest report is a stark declaration of how much work is ahead of us. That said, even as we grapple with the impacts of human induced climate change, there is the opportunity for all of us to be a part of the solution.

Together, we can grow our forests and grow climate hope.

 

Read the full IPCC report here. You can also find informative summaries from ABC Australia, The Conversation and The New York Times.