The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its latest special report (SR1.5) on Monday detailing the scientific community’s best understanding of the impacts of 1.5°C global warming, and the results are staggering.

Over the last week, NWAC joined Canada’s delegation with other members of the IPCC in Incheon, South Korea for the panels 48th Session (IPCC48). The primary task of the members at IPCC48 was to review and approve the details of SR1.5’s summary report for policy makers (SPM). The SPM is designed to clearly explain to all levels of government around the world the unequivocal scientific consensus that failure to take meaningful and immediate actions to address climate change will cause painful and irreversible impacts on natural and human systems.

The IPCC is the international body responsible for providing the international community with the latest, most reliable science on climate change. Hundreds of climate scientists contributed to the SR1.5 report which reviewed thousands of studies. The SPM is a very brief summary of the SR1.5 and while the vast majority of the world’s population will likely never read the SPM, they should.

According to the IPCC’s latest report, without significant actions to reduce net anthropogenic (human induced) global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by about half before 2030 and then further reducing net GHG emission to zero by 2050, global warming will not be contained to 1.5°C. Beyond reducing GHG emissions to zero by 2050, measures to remove as much as 1,000 gigatonnes will also have to be undertaken to limit global warming to 1.5°C. To put that in perspective, global energy-related carbon emissions hit a record high of 32.5 gigatonnes in 2017.

Failing to contain global warming to 1.5°C will result in extreme weather events, including heat waves, heavy precipitation, drought, major losses to biodiversity, continued ocean acidification (and coral bleaching), and water and food insecurity for hundreds of millions of people.

While the IPCC has previously released reports that spoke to the heightened vulnerability of persons of intersecting marginalization to climate change, this latest report has not addressed the issue. Indigenous women are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to their indigeneity and their gender. Further research is needed to better understand these effects and measures must be taken to help protect Indigenous women from these effects and to include them in low-carbon economic activities.

The federal, provincial and local governments must do much more to meet Canada’s GHG emission reduction targets  of 30% below 2005 levels by 2030 under the Paris agreement, and this is nothing compared to the transformative metamorphosis of the global economy that will have to take place to transition to a net zero economy by 2050. While Canada’s delegation team skillfully and vociferously advocated on behalf of science and cooperation throughout IPCC48, this report is clear that the scope of the climate challenge domestically and internationally is a mammoth one – perhaps the greatest and most significant challenge of shared human history.

It is time to be ambitious.

 Find out more about the IPCC report at: IPCC REPORT