At a time of dramatic geopolitical upheaval, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) today published the condensed summary of the third and final segment of its Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) cycle.
Building on earlier instalments, the findings of Working Group III (WGIII) again collate insights from hundreds of peer-reviewed studies across 195 countries to equip policymakers with the best-available science. Working Group I (August 2021) explored climate megatrends that will shape our future; Working Group II (Feb 2022) articulated what these shifts are likely to mean in practice, across regions, ecosystems, and economic sectors; now, WGIII explores steps we can take to mitigate against this accelerating emergency.
Underlining the urgent need to accelerate the global transition towards net-zero emissions, WGIII also majors on the critical role natural climate solutions (NCS) can play in sequestering carbon that’s already in the atmosphere.
In an unstable world, WGIII also reminds us of the inherent injustice of the climate crisis – with many of the lowest-emitting countries first in line to face the gravest consequences – and ultimately concludes that only system-wide transformation across every region and economic sector will be sufficient to secure a sustainable and equitable future for all.
Commenting on the publication of IPCC AR6 WGIII, The Nature Conservancy’s CEO Jennifer Morris said:
‘With conflict dominating news and social feeds, longer-term threats like the climate crisis will likely be diminished in our collective consciousness as we seek to triage the immediate problems at hand. However, the evidence contained in this latest IPCC report makes clear the global community can’t let that happen at such a critical moment.
‘Despite growing momentum since 2010, emissions continue to rise across all sectors. Fewer than 30 countries have so far demonstrated sustained GHG reductions, and current national-level commitments require immediate acceleration to limit global warming to +2C, let alone +1.5C.
‘It is important that all leaders see these projections in unflinching detail if we’re to avoid the most catastrophic effects of the climate crisis. The good news is that, from renewable energy innovation and slowing deforestation, to unlocking the full power of nature-based solutions through financial investment – many of the solutions we need already exist in the here and now, we just need the collective courage to act.
‘Particularly exciting are the projected gains the IPCC sees coming from agriculture, forestry and land-use (AFOLU) sectors. By combining reforestation with the restoration of croplands, wetlands and mangroves, we can unleash the full carbon-sequestering potential of Natural Climate Solutions while also bolstering biodiversity, food security, and the supply of other vital ecosystem products such as timber. It is estimated that we can do all of this for less than the world currently spends on subsidising these areas of the economy.
‘No country, sector, or strategy can turn things around single-handedly – only a truly coordinated global approach, with equity at its core, will suffice. That is the stage we are at now – and, while we cannot control current events, by pushing for these solutions every one of us has the power to help shape a fairer and more sustainable future.’
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories—37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners—we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.