Simplified summary of the third part of the sixth IPCC report

April 5, 2022



Climate change
Grégoire Guirauden

Grégoire Guirauden

Chief Operations Officer

A. Introduction to the 6th IPCC Report

This is a summary of the "Summary for Policymakers" from the report of the third working group of the sixth IPCC report! The IPCC reports provide elements for the assessment of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that United Nations member states have set for themselves by 2030. The purpose of this document on the sixth cycle of the IPCC report is to popularize the main findings of the report. This only represents my view, but it will allow you to quickly have a synthetic vision!

I invite you to follow the official translations of the IPCC report which may be more strict than mine:

B. Summary of the Recent Developments and Current Trends reported

B.1 Anthropogenic emissions are increasing

Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions continued to increase between 2010 and 2019, but at a slightly slower rate than between 2000 and 2009. However, our emissions are still increasing every day.

Ipcc report summary picture

B.2 Reduction in Carbon Intensity... but an Increase in Emissions

The IPCC report highlights that anthropogenic GHG emissions have increased since 2010 across all major global sectors. There are no top performers, but urban areas are particularly responsible for the rise. Finally, while there has been an improvement in the energy intensity of GDP and the carbon intensity of energy, it falls well short of the increase in emissions due to the rise in global activity in industry, energy supply, transport, agriculture, and buildings.

B.3 The disparities between regions are colossal.

The climate expert group emphasizes that this depends on stages of development and income as well as regions. The top 10% of households contribute up to 45% of total emissions. Over the last decade, only 18 countries have managed to reduce emissions continuously every year.

Note: the least developed countries (LDCs) and isolated island countries contributed respectively 0.4% and 0.5% of anthropogenic emissions between 1850 and 2019.

ipcc regional report

B.4 Innovation Policy = Cost Reduction = Massive Adoption

The IPCC assessment report emphasizes that the unit costs of several low-emission technologies have continuously decreased since 2010, thanks to ambitious innovation policies. This has led to a surge in adoption rates. Adoption is lagging in developing countries due to less favorable conditions. Digitalization can help reduce emissions, but it can also have negative side effects if not managed properly. Note: between 2010 and 2019, unit costs have decreased by 85% for solar energy, 55% for wind energy, and 85% for lithium-ion batteries.

B.5 Public Policies Work, But Need Acceleration!

The climate expert group shows that climate change mitigation policies are constantly expanding and are very effective. However, they do not yet cover all sectors and are insufficient compared to the goals of the Paris Agreement. Financial flows to combat climate change increased by 60% between 2013 and 2020, but the average growth has slowed since 2018.

B.6 COP26 Commitments Are Grossly Insufficient

The IPCC assessment report also shows that the commitments made at COP26 are insufficient to reach the 1.5°C target, and very unlikely to keep warming below 2°C (only in case of a massive reduction after 2030). Moreover, the policies applied so far do not align with the goals that countries have set for themselves.

Projected IPCC report

C. Summary of the Necessary System Transformations in the Report

C.1 From 1.5°C to 3.2°C?

To achieve our targets of 1.5° or 2°, the peak of emissions must occur between 2020 and 2025. Without real efforts by 2025, we are heading towards a state of global warming of at least 3.2°.

C.2 Net Zero Goal

The IPCC assessment report also shows that the later we achieve Net Zero, the more certain we are to increase warming for this century and those to come. This must be our sole compass for the next three decades. Drastic reduction of methane emissions by 2030 and 2040 is a crucial condition to meet these targets.

C.3 The Challenge is Not Choosing the Right Solution, but Implementing All of Them

To meet our objectives, drastic reductions must involve all sectors, as soon as possible. Transition away from fossil fuels, massive deployment of decarbonized energies, improvement of energy efficiency, drastic reductions of other GHGs besides CO2, and carbon sequestration to neutralize the remaining emissions, all solutions must be utilized.

C.4 The End of Fossil Fuel ExtractionThe report is unequivocal.

We must exit fossil fuels as soon as possible, massively develop decarbonized energies, and increase energy efficiency. Continuing to install new fossil fuel infrastructure is folly, regardless of the excuses found by the major players in the sector (referencing Athena and Cryo Pur).

C.5 Reducing Industrial Emissions: A Complex but Necessary Challenge

The IPCC report acknowledges that reducing industrial emissions is difficult, but achievable by mobilizing all actors in the value chains. Efficiency, energy decarbonization, and transitioning to a circular economy model are the three axes to employ. Carbon capture remains an option, but it is secondary compared to other objectives (referencing Enogia, H2P, and EcoTechCeram).

C.6 Cities as an Opportunity, Not a Risk

According to IPCC reports, the three key areas for successful transition to modern cities are: reducing or altering the consumption of energy and materials, electrification, and enhancing carbon capture in the urban environment. If these transitions succeed, the local co-benefits will be colossal.

C.7 Net Zero Goals in the Building Sector

Buildings must transition towards carbon neutrality models. Given the colossal challenges, equally monumental public policies must be implemented. The contribution of the building sector transition to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can also be colossal (referencing Accenta and Ithaque).

C.8 Transportation: Reduction and Decarbonization

The climate expert group states that reducing both the intensity and the quantity of transport through societal changes is the primary response to the challenges, contributing significantly to quality of life improvements. Transitioning to decarbonized energies is obviously mandatory. Future energies such as hydrogen, sustainable biofuels, or synthetic fuels have potential, but require significant process improvements (referencing Dioxycle and Carboneo).

C.9 Farmers and Foresters

The assessment report highlights that the potential for carbon capture by agricultural soils and natural spaces remains key, and policies must be implemented to turn lands into powerful and resilient carbon sinks. The co-benefits associated with these policies will be powerful and crucial for the systemic resilience of ecosystems (referencing Rize Ag and Sysfarm).

C.10 Energy Moderation and Consumption Limitation

Reducing our consumption could lead to emission reductions of 40 to 70%. Emphasis on quality and the circular economy is essential!

C.11 Technological CO2 Capture Has Become a Necessity

Even though these technologies are far from efficient, unfortunately, we will not achieve our targets without them. But without drastic reduction, they will also never be sufficient; priorities must not be forgotten!

C.12 €100 per Ton and Half the Job is Done!

The assessment report shows that 50% of global emissions could be reduced by 2030 with measures costing less than €100 per ton. While it's true that these climate change mitigation policies may slightly limit GDP growth, the adverse effects of doing nothing about climate change will be far worse than these few points of GDP not gained!

Cities IPCC Report

D. Summary of the Links Between Mitigation, Adaptation, and Sustainable Development in the Report

D.1 SDGs as a Compass for Compromise

For truly sustainable development, an acceleration of climate action is required, along with greater equity in the distribution of resources and uses. To assess the various compromises that will be necessary, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide an effective framework for analysis.

D.2 Sustainable Development, Vulnerability, and Climate Risk

The poorest countries are also the most vulnerable and least able to combat climate change. Policies to aid vulnerable populations and countries are necessary to protect the most vulnerable and the ecosystems in which they live. A fair assessment of emissions generated by each country is therefore important.

D.3 Equity and Sharing

Collaboration and better sharing of the wealth created are essential; otherwise, the consequences will be dramatic and global. It is important to include all stakeholders, even the most vulnerable, in discussions and decisions, to take the best measures.

Mitigation IPCC Report

E. Strengthening the Response to Climate Change, a key lever of the IPCC report

E.1 Deploy Known and Mature Solutions

There are working solutions that can be deployed massively and swiftly. All barriers that limit these deployments globally, when no longer technical, must be removed. Political and social institutions play a key role in this urgent and necessary transition.

E.2 Shift Economic Model to Combat Climate Change

This necessary transition must be seen as an opportunity. By integrating decisions within a broader economic context and a new development model, the social and economic benefits will be significant and will effectively combat the harms of climate change. We must use the challenges to change our productive model, and not merely tweak a failing system.

E.3 Powerful and Necessary Climate Governance

The issues are so numerous and widespread that only strong climate governance can provide the necessary frameworks for such a transition. Effective and equitable climate governance relies on the engagement of civil society actors, political figures, businesses, youth, workers, media, indigenous peoples, and local communities.

E.4 Climate Policies Work and Are More Necessary Than Ever

Regulatory and economic measures have already been deployed successfully. Those that foster innovation and build capacity are better able to support a shift towards an equitable, low-emission future than individual policies. Economy-wide measures, adapted to national circumstances, can achieve short-term economic goals while reducing emissions and steering development towards sustainability.

E.5 Increase Financial Flows for Ecological Transition

The climate expert group has also shown that the recorded financial flows are below the levels needed to meet the objectives. Strong political support from governments and the international community is necessary to increase these flows. Redirecting flows towards developing countries to enable their transition and mitigate the impacts of climate change is also crucial.

E.6 We Must All Cooperate

International cooperation is a crucial catalyst for achieving ambitious climate change mitigation goals. The UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol, and the Paris Agreement support increasing levels of national ambition and encourage the development and implementation of climate policies, even though gaps remain. Such initiatives must continue and be strengthened.

The IPCC reports and their assessments of the situation should serve as a compass to urge us to act sustainably for the climate starting now. To learn more, the Public Reports Library presents a comprehensive collection of public reports produced and made available by French public actors.

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