2. What are the IPCC telling us

Contrary to the position of some of our more sensationalist news outlets, the IPCC are not telling you that you are bad, that you are a hypocrite, or that you should feel guilty. They are not trying to trigger your fight or flight response; no, they are simply presenting scientific facts and predictions. The IPCC don’t do ‘feelings’, they do ‘science’.

Unless you live under a rock, you will have heard of the Paris Climate Agreement struck in 2015. This landmark agreement marks the moment when the world (including Australia) voluntarily defined the climate change problem that we (humans) would all endeavour to solve i.e. ‘holding the increase of global temperatures to well below 2°C above preindustrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C.’. The IPCC reports let us know how we are tracking with the resolution of this shared problem.

managing the risks of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation

Some of the scientific details from the latest IPCC report, as established by the scientific community (the same community who bought you the internet, space travel, mobile phones and modern medicine), are detailed below;

  • ‘It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land.’

  • ‘Recent changes across the climate system as a whole… are unprecedented over many centuries to many thousands of years.’

  • ‘Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe… changes in extremes such as heatwaves, heavy precipitation, droughts, and tropical cyclones… (and) their attribution to human influence, has strengthened’

  • ‘Global surface temperature will continue to increase until at least the mid-century under all emissions scenarios considered. Global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century unless deep reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades’

  • ‘Many changes in the climate system become larger in direct relation to increasing global warming. They include increases in the frequency and intensity of hot extremes, marine heatwaves, heavy precipitation, agricultural and ecological droughts in some regions, and proportion of intense tropical cyclones, as well as reductions in Arctic Sea ice, snow cover and permafrost’

  • ‘Continued global warming is projected to further intensify the global water cycle, including its variability, global monsoon precipitation and the severity of wet and dry events.’

  • ‘Under scenarios with increasing CO2 emissions, the ocean and land carbon sinks are projected to be less effective at slowing the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere.’

  • ‘Many changes due to past and future greenhouse gas emissions are irreversible for centuries to millennia, especially changes in the ocean, ice sheets and global sea level.’

  • ‘Natural drivers and internal variability will modulate human-caused changes…’

  • ‘With further global warming, every region is projected to increasingly experience concurrent and multiple changes in climatic impact-drivers. Changes in several climatic impact-drivers would be more widespread at 2°C compared to 1.5°C global warming...’

  • ‘Low-likelihood outcomes, such as ice sheet collapse, abrupt ocean circulation changes, some compound extreme events and warming substantially larger than the assessed very likely range of future warming cannot be ruled out ...’

  • ‘From a physical science perspective, limiting human-induced global warming to a specific level requires limiting cumulative CO2 emissions, reaching at least net zero CO2 emissions, along with strong reductions in other greenhouse gas emissions. Strong, rapid and sustained reductions in CH4 emissions would also limit the warming effect resulting from declining aerosol pollution and would improve air quality.’

  • ‘Scenarios with very low or low GHG emissions (SSP1-1.9 and SSP1-2.6) lead within years to discernible effects on greenhouse gas and aerosol concentrations, and air quality, relative to high and very high GHG emissions scenarios (SSP3-7.0 or SSP5-8.5). Under these contrasting scenarios, discernible differences in trends of global surface temperature would begin to emerge from natural variability within around 20 years, and over longer time periods for many other climatic impact-drivers (high confidence).’

IPCC Summary for policy makers 2021
Download PDF • 6.15MB

If you are ready to park your emotions and work with the facts, then get in touch with one of our experts. We enjoy contemplating new challenges and opportunities, and are always happy to share ideas. Together, we will find a better way.

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"Women digging for bush potato" Artwork by Beverly Egan, Murchison River, WA. © 2022 by Perspektiv Australia Pty Ltd. 

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