Climate Connections: Findings of IPCC 6th assessment a call for action
Amy Cilimburg and Dr. Steve Running
For over five decades, collectively, we have been deeply involved in addressing our climate crisis. It has shaped our lives and our careers. You might think the latest release of an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report wouldn’t phase us. But it does. The report punches a lot of power. It’s time for action.
The IPCC 6th Assessment Synthesis Report is the strongest clarion call from our world’s top experts, agreeing whole-heartedly that we need deep, rapid and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. It specifically says we need to end fossil fuel use and subsidies.
Deep and Rapid—these 2 words are repeated 20 times in the 36-page report. United Nations Secretary General António Guterres urgently called on leaders to defuse the “ticking climate time bomb,” and according to the report “the 1.5-degree limit is achievable … But it will take a quantum leap in climate action,” he said. “In short, our world needs climate action on all fronts—everything, everywhere, all at once.”
One of us (Steve) was a Lead Author for the IPCC 4th Assessment in 2007. The tone of that report was direct and factual, concentrating on measurements like air temperature rise and greenhouse gas emissions increases, resulting in direct impacts such as sea level rise and glacial retreat. We were counseled to stick to facts from published scientific literature and avoid policy recommendations.
This 6th Assessment is still entirely founded on published scientific literature, not speculation. But the tone of this Synthesis report is very different. It sounds the alarm of time running out for humanity, and not enough progress being made. It evaluates in detail various policy options and prioritizes immediate steps for climate stabilization, though stops short of specific policy prescriptions. That’s where we come in.
Two-thirds of adults in the U.S. acknowledge the climate crisis is real, human caused, and the government needs to do more. Great! Backed by this strong majority, private sector, local government, state, federal, international, and individual actions need to happen this week, this month, this year.
There are many pressing issues to solve – housing, inequality, poverty, family-supporting jobs. This means we need to expand our thinking, innovate, and collaborate. We need diverse climate leaders – new and old - and the knowledge and voices they bring to solve these issues and the climate crisis together.
At Climate Smart Missoula, which one of us (Amy) leads, we like this frame:
We need everyone, everywhere to Act, Advocate and Invest.
Act: Go solar, improve the energy efficiency of your home or business, and travel lightly. Via the Inflation Reduction Act, there are new opportunities to Electrify Missoula and retrofit buildings. Can you and your workplace reduce consumption, compost, eschew plastic, and eat more plants? Can we take actions that build community resiliency for all?
Advocate: Speak up for climate solutions at the local, state, and federal levels and support local leaders willing to act on climate. Hold those who do not accountable. Share your story and talk about why you care and what actions you’re taking with friends, neighbors, and colleagues. Connect with climate advocacy organizations.
Invest: Put your time, energy and financial resources toward climate solutions. Did you know Climate Smart has a Footprint Fund, where you or your business can offset your carbon footprint by funding local projects that help low-income residents and nonprofits save energy? How can you invest in climate action?
The IPCC report clearly states there are multiple, feasible and effective options to reduce climate warming emissions and build resiliency, and these are available now. IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee says: “Mainstreaming effective and equitable climate action will not only reduce losses and damages for nature and people, it will also provide wider benefits. This Synthesis Report underscores the urgency of taking more ambitious action.”
Climate, human societies, ecosystems and biodiversity are intertwined. We can work on climate resiliency, mitigation, human and ecosystem health, and innovative development with a mindset of abundant opportunity, not scarcity. Every action we take today brings a livable future closer.
Let’s not read these headlines and reports and go on as if we hadn’t. The world needs everyone to help with innovative climate solutions, everywhere, all at once.
Amy Cilimburg is the Executive Director of Climate Smart Missoula; Dr Steve Running is Regents Professor Emeritus at the University of Montana. Dr. Running shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 as a chapter Lead Author for the IPCC 4th Assessment.
April is Earth Month. There are so many local events and opportunities to get involved before, during, and after Earth Day. Check out this Calendar with links to Missoula-area and regional activities.
Climate Smart Missoula brings this Climate Connections column to you the second and fourth Friday of every month. Learn more about our work and sign up for our e-newsletter at missoulaclimate.org.