IPCC WGII: Cut emissions faster or our climate will pass the limits of human survival

If we are to survive the climate impacts to come, humanity must urgently reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the IPCC WGII contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report indicates.

There is still a possibility that humans and nature can become resilient to climate change if we cut emissions. This prospect is “increasingly limited” if greenhouse gas emissions do not rapidly decline, the IPCC WGII’s contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report states.

These prospects will only get worse if the world warms by more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels before 2040. Worryingly, there is a more than 50 per cent chance that global warming will reach or exceed these levels by 2040. This is the case even if we cut emissions and keep greenhouse gas emissions extremely low, according to the report.

The consequences of this rise in temperature will be dire, with some ecosystems facing significant risks. In some cases, these impacts will be irreversible. The IPCC also warns that warming of over 1.5°C will trigger events and release more greenhouse gases. For example, melting permafrost will release greenhouse gases trapped underground.

Therefore, the decisions humans take in the following decades and whether we cut emissions will be crucial to determining our chances of becoming climate-resilient.