“Establishing effective and equitable climate action will not only reduce loss and damage to nature and people, it will bring wider benefits,” said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee. The new status report from his body shows that “if we act now, we can still ensure a sustainable future worth living for everyone”.

In order to avert climate change with catastrophic consequences, the world community agreed in the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015 to limit global warming to well below two degrees, but if possible to 1.5 degrees compared to the pre-industrial age. The earth has already warmed up by around 1.1 degrees as a result of mankind’s greenhouse gas emissions, in particular through the use of fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas. The chances of complying with the 1.5 degree limit are slim given the continued increase in greenhouse gas emissions.

According to the authors, the evaluation of the latest scientific findings showed that the effects of climate change are even greater than assumed in the previous status report from 2014. This is reflected in “more frequent and more intense extreme weather events” such as heat waves and storms. According to the IPCC, the currently hottest years will in future be among the coolest within a generation.

In its synthesis report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change explains that almost all scenarios for humanity’s short-term greenhouse gas burst predict that the 1.5-degree limit will already be reached in the period from 2030 to 2035. However, the international community could achieve “a visible slowdown in global warming” through a “profound, rapid and sustained reduction in emissions”.

Such a comprehensive change of course is in the interest of mankind. “The economic and social benefits of limiting climate change to two degrees exceed the costs of the measures to be implemented,” says the IPCC report. The switch to climate-friendly energies and means of transport not only creates jobs, but also reduces air pollution and the suffering it causes. And the economic benefit from this is at least as great as the costs of the measures to reduce emissions.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for “defusing the climate time bomb” in light of the IPCC report. Rich countries would need to bring forward their carbon neutrality targets “as close as possible to 2040.”

Meanwhile, Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg denounced “treason” by politicians. The rulers worldwide had failed to do something about the climate crisis in good time and were “actively moving in the wrong direction”.

Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) explained that the IPCC report “makes it clear with brutal clarity that we are sawing the branch on which we are sitting as a global community”. However, it is “still possible to keep 1.5 degrees within reach if we halve global emissions in the next seven years”. The federal government is committed “to an ambitious global climate policy”.

Environmental and development organizations criticized the federal government’s climate policy as inadequate. The IPCC report warns “of a rapidly closing time window,” explained Christoph Bals from Germanwatch. This means that the federal government “must not lose any more time” and must carry out the climate-friendly “conversion of the transport and building system”.

The development organization Bread for the World explained that the IPCC report was “a mandate for immediate action”. In particular, “the poorest population groups in the Global South, who have contributed the least to the climate crisis”, need support.

The so-called synthesis report summarizes the current scientific findings on the causes and consequences of global warming and gives governments and other political decision-makers recommendations for action. In addition to the three parts of the sixth IPCC assessment report, which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has published since August 2021, further IPCC findings from previous IPCC special reports have also been incorporated into the synthesis report.