Understanding the IPCC Reports

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the world’s foremost collection of climate scientists. Throughout 2013 and 2014, the group will release its Fifth Assessment Report in four installments, highlighting the current state of the climate system and climate change, its environmental and socio-economic impacts, and mitigation strategies that can limit emissions. Here, WRI provides ongoing analysis of this groundbreaking climate change research—and its potential implications on communities, the economy, and the environment.

Recent reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) revealed that the impacts of climate change are already “widespread and consequential.” Yet the effects we may see in the future still largely depend on the actions countries take to reduce their emissions today. Here, WRI provides four possible global emissions outcomes—and its potential implications on communities, the economy, and the environment.

Infographic: 4 Emissions Pathways

The infographic below, based on IPCC data, depicts the likely consequences of various emissions pathways ranging from a low-carbon future to a fossil fuel-intensive one. Alongside each pathway, known as a “Representation Concentration Pathway,” we show what the future might hold in terms of climate impacts – ranging from temperature increases to precipitation changes to ecosystem degradation. The bottom line is that it’s still possible to limit global temperature rise to 2°C, thus preventing some of the more disastrous consequences of climate change—but it will require ambitious cuts to global greenhouse gas emissions.


Infographic Slides

Full infographic (.png file)


Low Emissions Pathway

Medium Emissions Pathway

High Emissions Pathway

Highest Emissions Scenario

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