WASHINGTON (August 9, 2021)—Today the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a new climate science report from its Working Group I on the physical science underpinning past, present and future climate change. 

The report showcases the latest projections for temperature rise, advances in attributing extreme weather events to climate change, increased risks to reaching tipping points where significant impacts become irreversible, and much more. Two especially notable findings include:

  • The world may reach 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) of warming within the next two decades. 
  • There remains a very narrow pathway to limit warming to 1.5°C by 2100, but it will require decisive action to curb emissions very rapidly this decade as well as reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century.

Following is a statement from Helen Mountford, Vice President, Climate and Economics, World Resources Institute:

“If this IPCC report doesn’t shock you into action, it should. The report paints a very sobering picture of the unforgiving, unimaginable world we have in store if our addiction to burning fossil fuels and destroying forests continues. One of the most striking takeaways is that we may reach 1.5°C of warming a decade earlier than the IPCC had previously found.

“The current news headlines about deadly flooding, forest fires and droughts happening around the world are like scenes from a dystopian science fiction novel, yet these are manifestations of the global warming that our climate pollution has already baked into the system. The dangerous and costly impacts we are experiencing now will seem mild compared to what we will face if we fail to keep warming to 1.5°C by the end of this century. This underscores the urgent need for rich nations to deliver far more financial resources to developing countries that are the most vulnerable to climate impacts and the least responsible for emissions. This funding is essential so they can better protect their communities, food supplies and water sources from the unavoidable consequences of a changing climate. 

“While the IPCC’s findings are alarming, they most certainly should not translate to hopelessness or inaction. On the contrary, our imperative to rapidly cut greenhouse gas emissions will only escalate as temperatures rise and climate impacts get worse and worse. This report should galvanize every country, company, city and citizen to fight like hell to avoid every bit of warming we can. 

“The good news is that we know what it will take to avoid a calamitous future and generate much-needed jobs and low-carbon, economic growth. This report shows we have a very narrow pathway to limit warming to 1.5°C, but we will only make it if we act decisively. Getting the job done will require rapid, radical shifts in the ways we use and make energy, produce food, manage land, and move people and goods around. 

“Our opportunity to avoid even more catastrophic impacts has an expiration date. The report implies that this decade is truly our last chance to take the actions necessary to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C. If we collectively fail to rapidly curb greenhouse gas emissions in the 2020s, that goal will slip out of reach. 

“For too long vested interests have stymied progress and cast doubt on climate science that is rock-solid. Those days must be in the past.

“Look around at the world leaders in office today. Our collective fate will be determined by their choices. This is an all-hands-on-deck moment for everyone to rise up and demand their leaders take bold climate action like our future depends on it, because it absolutely does.”