Sign In or Create an Account.

By continuing, you agree to the Terms of Service and acknowledge our Privacy Policy

Climate

The 5 Quotes You Need to Know from the IPCC Report

It's not too late. Yet.

The United Nations.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images, IPCC

On Monday, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its 2023 synthesis report, which brings together eight years of research about the planet’s rising temperature. Described as a “final warning,” a “clarion call,” and a “how-to guide to defuse the climate time-bomb,” the report offers little in the way of new information, but much in terms of a statement on the certitude and urgency of the supporting science.

Here are five of the most important quotes from the report.

1. “Very high confidence.”

The IPCC report offers readers and policymakers “the stone-cold truth” about climate change, as “laid out in unassailable science by the world’s top climate experts,” Manish Bapna, the president and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said. That conviction is echoed in the report’s multiple “very high confidence” assessments. There is virtually no doubt, for example, that “climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health,” that those dangers increase "with every increment of global warming," or that the atmospheric concentrations of methane and nitrous oxide “were higher [in 2019] than at any time in at least 800,000 years." Also of assurance is the fact that climate change has caused “mass mortality events" — and that to protect against future losses to humans and ecosystems, "deep, rapid, and sustained" reduction of heat-trapping greenhouse gases is required.

Overall, the phrase “high confidence” — including the highest-level calibration of “very high confidence” — appears 118 times in the 26-page summary, The Washington Post reports. The jury isn't out on the science.

2. “There is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.”

One of the report’s starkest “very high confidence” assessments is that time is rapidly running out. “There is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all,” the authors warn.

The window is closing so rapidly, in fact, that the 2023 synthesis report is “almost certain” to be the last IPCC assessment "while the world still has a chance of limiting global temperature rises to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, the threshold beyond which our damage to the climate will rapidly become irreversible,” The Guardian writes.

That sense of a last chance can be felt throughout the report. Without "urgent, effective, and equitable” progress away from our current rate of greenhouse gas emissions, the threats to human life and health and global diversity and ecosystems will increase in the coming years, the report warns. By that same token, the positive actions we take now could have beneficial “impacts now and for thousands of years.”

3. “Without a strengthening of policies, global warming of 3.2°C is projected by 2100.”

While the policies and laws in place to combat climate change have expanded since the last IPCC report was published in 2014, the authors found we still have a long way to go. Alarmingly, the current nationally set targets of the Paris climate agreement for curbing greenhouse gas emissions aren't strong enough, and “make it likely” that we will “exceed 1.5°C during the 21st century,” which in turn will “make it harder to limit warming below 2°C.” Without more ambitious targets and stronger action by governments around the world, “global warming of 3.2°C is projected by 2100,” the report found.

The good news is, a number of strategies for lowering greenhouse gas emissions are cheaper than ever before, including solar energy, wind energy, ways to reduce food waste, and better-managed crop and grasslands.

4. “Every region in the world is projected to face further increases in climate hazards.”

No one is safe from the coming changes. "Every region in the world is projected to face further increases in climate hazards,” the report found.

Risks anticipated in the near-term future include heat deaths; food-, water-, and vector-borne diseases; “mental health challenges”; flooding; biodiversity loss; and decreased food production in some regions. Additionally, “current 1-in-100 year extreme sea level events” are expected to take place yearly in more than half of all studied tidal regions by 2100 — “under all considered scenarios” — due to the rising sea levels, the IPCC report found. Intensified tropical cyclones and hurricanes are also on their way.

These dangers will only “escalate with every increment of global warming,” the authors wrote. But the suffering won’t be felt equally around the globe: Some 3.3 to 3.6 billion people live in areas that leave them uniquely vulnerable to climate-related hazards. Oftentimes, such disproportionately-affected communities are ones that have historically contributed the least to climate change.

5. “Public and private finance flows for fossil fuels are still greater than those for climate adaptation and mitigation.”

If there was one overriding message in the IPCC, it’s that things need to change fast. Global warming is expected to continue to rise between now and 2040 due to increased cumulative CO2 emissions in “nearly all considered scenarios and modeled pathways,” the researchers found.

The only way to limit manmade warming is net zero CO2 emissions. What exactly does that involve? “A substantial reduction in overall fossil fuel use” is the big one — along with electrification, energy conservation, and other energy advances. While good progress has been made funneling money towards those sorts of projects, we have not turned the tide just yet, as “public and private finance flows for fossil fuels are still greater than those for climate adaptation and mitigation.”

But as the authors emphasized time and time again, how effectively and how soon we cut off our emissions will largely be what determines “whether warming can be limited to 1.5°C or 2°C.” Keeping the fossil fuel infrastructure we have now, without abatement, however, would doom us to enough CO2 emissions that we “exceed the remaining carbon budget for 1.5°C.”

Jeva Lange profile image

Jeva Lange

Jeva is a founding staff writer at Heatmap. Her writing has also appeared in The Week, where she formerly served as executive editor and culture critic, as well as in The New York Daily News, Vice, and Gothamist, among others. Jeva lives in New York City.

Politics

Energy Is a Culture War

JD Vance is making the conversation less about oil vs. solar and more about us vs. them.

JD Vance.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

“We need a leader,” said JD Vance as he accepted the Republican nomination for vice president, “who rejects Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s Green New Scam and fights to bring back our great American factories.” The election, he said, is “about the auto worker in Michigan, wondering why out-of-touch politicians are destroying their jobs,” and “the energy worker in Pennsylvania and Ohio who doesn’t understand why Joe Biden is willing to buy energy from tinpot dictators across the world, when he could buy it from his own citizens right here in our own country.”

This is the tale Vance tells about energy and climate — one of contempt and betrayal, elitists sacrificing hard-working blue-collar Americans on the altar of their alien schemes. On the surface it may sound like it’s about jobs and economics, but it’s really about the eternal culture war that divides us from them.

Keep reading...Show less
Politics

AM Briefing: A Quick RNC Energy Recap

On Doug Burgum’s speech, green steel, and electric jets

What Republicans Have Been Saying About Energy at the RNC
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Current conditions: The Acropolis in Greece was closed yesterday due to excessive heat • The Persian Gulf International Airport recorded a heat index of 149 degrees Fahrenheit • Recent flooding in Brazil exposed a 233-million-year-old dinosaur fossil.

THE TOP FIVE

1. Republicans slam Biden energy policy at RNC

Energy hasn’t dominated the conversation at the Republican National Convention this week, but it’s certainly been a talking point. Last night North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum gave a speech focusing on the topic. “Teddy Roosevelt encouraged America to speak softly and carry a big stick,” Burgum said. “Energy dominance will be the big stick that President Trump will carry.” He accused President Biden of making Russia and Iran “filthy rich” with his energy policies, blamed him for higher electric bills and grid problems, and said “four more years of Joe will usher in an era of Biden brownouts and blackouts.” Oh, and he promised that Trump would “let all of you keep driving your gas-powered cars.” CNN called the speech “Burgum’s audition to be energy secretary.”

Keep reading...Show less
Yellow
Technology

Florida’s Climate Tech Hub Has a Florida Problem

One of the most vulnerable states in the U.S. wants nothing to do with “climate change.”

A Florida postcard.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

The Biden administration loves a hub. There are the hydrogen hubs, the direct air capture hubs, and now there are the tech hubs. Established as a part of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, the $10 billion program has so far seeded 12 such hubs across the country. Four of these are focused on clean energy and sustainability, and one is located in the great state of Florida, which recently passed legislation essentially deleting the words “climate change” from state law.

The South Florida ClimateReady Tech Hub did not, in the end, eliminate climate from its name. But while Governor Ron DeSantis might not approve, the federal government didn’t seem to mind, as the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration awarded the hub $19.5 million to “advance its global leadership in sustainable and resilient infrastructure.”

Keep reading...Show less
Yellow