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Rapid collective climate action required, according to major UN report

20 March 2023

PML science supports the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment.
The need for urgent international action on carbon emissions and the importance of innovation to create a liveable and sustainable future have been highlighted in the final instalment of the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), published today (20 March 2023) by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)  - the international body which assesses the science related to climate change.
The IPCC was set up in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to provide policymakers with regular assessments of the scientific basis of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and options for adaptation and mitigation.
Now in its sixth round of assessment, today’s publication of the AR6 Synthesis Report brings together the evidence and findings established previously within a series of working group and special reports, and supported by the work of hundreds of leading scientists from across the world.
The Synthesis Report effectively represents the most comprehensive understanding of current climate science. It concludes that:
  • Efforts to date have not been enough and deep, rapid and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are required in order to ensure a liveable future 
  • Losses and damages will be part of that future but a more sustainable and resilient world is possible if effective action is taken
  • There are multiple, feasible options to reduce emissions and mitigate climate change impacts but best practice and financing needs to be scaled up rapidly
  • Climate action provides a number of co-benefits, in terms of opportunities to improve lives and livelihoods
  • International political commitment and collaboration is essential, along with the need for the 'benefits and burdens' to be shared equally. 
“Mainstreaming effective and equitable climate action will not only reduce losses and damages for nature and people, it will also provide wider benefits,” said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee. “This Synthesis Report underscores the urgency of taking more ambitious action and shows that, if we act now, we can still secure a liveable sustainable future for all.”

"The climate time-bomb is ticking but the latest IPCC report shows that we have the knowledge and resources to tackle the climate crisis," Secretary-General of the UN António Guterres tweeted in response. 

Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) scientists and alumni have made a number of significant contributions to the IPCC assessments, including acting in the capacity of lead and contributing authors and expert reviewers within several of the working group and special reports.

PML Chief Executive, Professor Icarus Allen said:
The IPCC report once again stresses that a step-change is required in terms of the action global society takes to mitigate climate change and create a sustainable future. We are all too aware of the irreversible damage that has already been caused on the marine environment as the Ocean has warmed, acidified and lost oxygen. Concerted action, supported by science, is imperative.”

Director of Science, Professor Steve Widdicombe added:
“The scientific evidence is clear: we are simply not doing enough. Mitigating and reversing the effects of climate change is a global challenge, requiring efforts at global and local scale which maximise the use of science and innovation to create a better outcome for all. The opportunity is as great as the threat - but there is no time left to waste.”  

PML scientists who have contributed to the current (sixth) IPCC assessment process include:
About the IPCC
The establishment of the IPCC was endorsed by UN General Assembly in 1988. Its initial task, as outlined in UN General Assembly Resolution 43/53 of 6 December 1988, was to prepare a comprehensive review and recommendations with respect to the state of knowledge of the science of climate change; the social and economic impact of climate change, and potential response strategies and elements for inclusion in a possible future international convention on climate.

Since 1988, the IPCC has had six assessment cycles and delivered six Assessment Reports, the most comprehensive scientific reports about climate change produced worldwide. It has also produced a range of Methodology Reports, Special Reports and Technical Papers, in response to requests for information on specific scientific and technical matters from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), governments and international organizations.

PML, the IPCC & UNFCCC in brief
PML experts have been part of the IPCC Author Teams for AR4, AR5, SROCC, AR6 (WGI and WGII) and has attended all UNFCCC COPs since 2009, participated in, organised and facilitated numerous ocean side  events, including co-organisation of Oceans Action Day, EU Ocean Day, Polar Oceans Day, and so on in addition to co-founding and coordinating the COP virtual Ocean Pavilion as well as a founding partner of the first (physical) Ocean Pavilion in the Blue Zone at a COP, bringing evidence of the latest ocean-climate science to delegates.

Related information

Read the report in full on the IPCC website