Our ‘last chance decade’: Tonight’s IPCC report a final warning for humanity to act swiftly

20.03.23 By
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THE WORLD’S most authoritative body on climate change will tonight issue its final warning for the 2020s: aim higher, act faster, or risk losing it all. 

The IPCC Climate Change 2023: Synthesis Report, compiled by almost 300 scientists across 67 countries, and drawing together all the contributions from the IPCC’s sixth assessment cycle, will clearly spell out how we are still hurtling towards a grim future unless we accelerate action on climate change now and throughout the 2020s.

Serious climate risks to Australia include irreversible loss of coral reefs, loss of alpine species, collapse of forests in southern Australia, loss of kelp forests, sea-level rise, an increase in severe fire weather days and a dramatic increase in fatal heatwaves. Australians are already being harmed by climate impacts like worsening extreme weather, but we can substantially limit further harms by moving swiftly beyond fossil fuels and getting greenhouse gas emissions to plummet this decade.

Climate Councillor, former IPCC author and Distinguished Professor of Biology at Macquarie University, Professor Lesley Hughes said:

“Australia is one of the most vulnerable developed countries to the impacts of climate change and we’ve seen the risks dramatically escalate over the past five years. We have much to lose and everything to gain by acting decisively to get emissions plummeting this critical decade.

“While this is a summary report of work we’d already seen in development, there is no doubt the findings of this report will be dire. Since the previous IPCC report was released, we’ve had even more unnatural disasters. We must focus on the fact that predictions are now becoming observations.  

“We’ve also had a period since the previous IPCC report came out where global emissions are rising once again, so the gap between where we are and where we need to go is increasing rather than decreasing.

“We have a closing window to drive global momentum towards getting us back on track for a safer climate. Governments must heed the warnings in this report and step up action. Every fraction of a degree of warming matters. Every action matters.”

The Climate Council’s Director of Research Dr Simon Bradshaw says the report will be ‘a final warning’. 

“The central message from climate scientists is unmistakable: governments must rally to drastically cut emissions and cease the extraction and burning of fossil fuels this decade. 

“That message has been delivered repeatedly, and consistently, for many decades. Tonight’s report will no doubt do the same. We are seeing progress when it comes to renewable energy uptake, and cleaner transport, but things just aren’t moving fast enough. If we haven’t seriously turned things around by the time the next such assessment report is due then we’ll be in very deep trouble.

“We have a choice here to act swiftly this decade. If we start giving it our all right now, we can avert the worst of it. So many solutions are readily available, like solar and wind power, storage, electric appliances and clean transport options. We need to get our skates on.

“This is why it’s important to get the Safeguard Mechanism right. The era of big polluters trading our future for a quick dollar must now come to an end. Coal, oil and gas needs to be phased out and left behind in the polluting past where they belong, replaced by the clean industries of the future.”

The IPCC Climate Change 2023: Synthesis Report will come off embargo on Monday 20 March 2023 at approximately 10pm AEDT. Check here for updates.

For interviews please contact Jane Gardner on 0438 130 905. 

The Climate Council is Australia’s leading community-funded climate change communications organisation. We provide authoritative, expert and evidence-based advice on climate change to journalists, policymakers, and the wider Australian community.

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