It is on this Monday, August 9, 2021 that the IPCC 2021 report called "Climate Change 2021: The Scientific Basis" was published. The conclusions of this report are unfortunately not very encouraging.
What is the IPCC?
The IPCC is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. It was created in 1988 by two United Nations institutions. This group has been evaluating the state of knowledge on climate change for more than 30 years. It provides an overview of the climate situation. Its purpose is not to take sides but to communicate a report on the climate situation based on scientific information that we have, to better understand the risks associated with climate change and the alternatives that can be put in place to mitigate it.
The IPCC does not do research on its own. Many dispute the veracity of the information it communicates, but one thing is certain: the IPCC's assessments are based on scientific publications whose value is widely recognized.
What does the report published this Monday, August 9, 2021 tell us?
On August 9, 2021, the IPCC published the first part of its report. It is the result of the synthesis of 14,000 scientific studies, and 234 authors have worked on this report.
This report puts forward in an irrefutable way that the climate changes we know are the result of human activity (even if we have suspected it for years). This report confirms the gravity of the situation.
Thus, the climatic events (floods, fires, droughts, heat waves, storms, etc.), which we have been witnessing for several years now and which are becoming more pronounced over time, are indeed the result of human activity.
Important element: this is the first report that takes into account the tipping points (otherwise known as points of no return). That is to say, a threshold which, if exceeded, will be responsible for major changes in the climate. This is also known as a runaway phenomenon. Among these events, we find the melting of the ice cap, the modification of marine courses or the decline of forests.
The report also shows that forests, soils and oceans will have even more difficulty in absorbing CO2 emissions, while the latter have never been so high for 2 million years, reaching 410 parts per million in 2019.
It is also specified that the +1.5 degree threshold would be reached by 2040, and that the +2 degree threshold would be reached, according to 3 scenarios, by the middle of the century. The objective of the Paris agreements to limit the rise in temperature to 2 or 1.5 degrees would not be respected.
What are the consequences of this rise in temperature?
Beyond the persistence of extreme weather events as mentioned before, coastal cities will have to deal with a rise in sea level and therefore more frequent and more severe flooding and we are getting closer and closer to the critical tolerance level with respect to human health.
What is the situation today?
We know it: climate change is already here, and its consequences are already present everywhere on earth. We have seen it this summer: no need to go far to observe strong floods (in Germany and Belgium but also in China), but also extreme heat which provokes fires ravaging North America and some Mediterranean countries.
Human activity has therefore consequences on all regions of the Earth.
Even if this report is not very positive, for the moment there is still hope: it is possible to reduce global warming and its consequences. As the co-chair of the IPCC Group 1 says, "If we reduce greenhouse gas emissions strongly, rapidly and sustainably, we will see the benefits in 10 or 20 years". Many scientists agree that the solution is to drastically change our lifestyles and the domestic policies of countries. Strong and long-term decisions seem to be the only possible way forward.
And the companies?
The call goes out to businesses as well: it is essential to reduce the carbon footprint and move towards a green and more responsible economy.
At Elia, our commitments are our values. Since our beginning, our menstrual panties are certified organic and Origine France Garantie. We encourage know-how and local production to reduce our CO2 emissions.