OPEN LETTER TO NY ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES FOLLOWING THE IPCC SYNTHESIS REPORT
Dear North Yorkshire Councillors and Members of Parliament
You may have seen in Monday’s news that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the UN body made up of the world’s leading climate scientists, has published a new report distilling all its detailed and lengthy reports over the last few years into a single 40-page document entitled the AR6 Synthesis Report: Climate Change 2023.
The report has been signed off by nearly 200 governments worldwide, including our own. Its purpose is to give policymakers a clear and comprehensible picture of the climate science, the risks we face and how we can reduce those risks and prepare for future climate impacts.
The key findings of the report are stark, for example:
‘Climatic and non-climatic risks will increasingly interact, creating compound and cascading risks that are more complex and difficult to manage.’
‘In the near term, every region in the world is projected to face further increases in climate hazards …, increasing multiple risks to ecosystems and humans.’
‘Some future changes are unavoidable and/or irreversible but can be limited by deep, rapid and sustained global greenhouse gas emissions reduction.’
According to the report, we can still – just – avoid the worst impacts if we act quickly:
‘Deep, rapid, and sustained mitigation and accelerated implementation of adaptation actions in this decade would reduce future losses and damages related to climate change for humans and ecosystems.’
‘We still have time to act, and we have everything we need to act. We know which mitigation and adaptation measures work. But the sense of urgency in implementing them is currently lacking.’ (Lead report author Dr Friederike Otto).
‘This report is a clarion call to massively fast-track climate efforts by every country and every sector and on every timeframe. Our world needs climate action on all fronts: everything, everywhere, all at once.’ (UN secretary general, António Guterres).
The report sets out the devastation that has already been inflicted across much of the world. Extreme weather caused by climate breakdown has led to increased deaths from intensifying heatwaves in all regions, millions of lives and homes destroyed in droughts and floods, millions of people facing hunger, and ‘increasingly irreversible losses’ (report section A2.3) in vital ecosystems.
According to the IPCC, the global average temperature is now about 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels. It is likely to break through the dangerous +1.5°C mark by the mid-2030s (report section B1.1). However, if greenhouse gas emissions can be made to peak as soon as possible, and are reduced rapidly in the following years, the most severe impacts that would follow a 1.5°C rise can still be avoided.
As our elected representatives, you will be responsible over the coming months and years for creating and implementing strategies, laws, policies and actions (e.g. the emerging NYC Climate Strategy and the Government’s revised Net Zero Strategy due by 31 March) that will allow us to meet this enormous challenge. We therefore urge you – Councillors and Members of Parliament – to read the IPCC synthesis report (and at least some of the media reports listed below) and to be guided by its findings, especially those under the heading ‘Urgency of Near-Term Integrated Climate Action’: ‘The choices and actions implemented in this decade [i.e. by 2030] will have impacts now and for thousands of years … There is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all’.
North Yorkshire Climate Coalition
Action on Climate Emergency (ACE) Settle and Area, Clapham Sustainability Group, Climate Action Northallerton, Climate Action Stokesley and Villages, CPRE North and East Yorkshire, Helmsley Green Team, Kirby Misperton Environmental Group, Kirkbymoorside Environment Group, Malhamdale Environmental Group, Malton and Norton Environmental Group, Nidderdale Climate + Environment Group, Northallerton Has Heart, North Yorkshire West Federation Women's Institutes Climate Change Action, Pickering Environmental Group, Project Purple Hovingham, Richmondshire Climate Action Partnership, Ryedale Environmental Group, Selby Friends of the Earth, Thirsk Friends of the Earth, Zero Carbon Harrogate
AR6 Synthesis Report: Climate Change 2023 — IPCC (summary for policymakers)
AR6 Synthesis Report: Summary for Policymakers Headline Statements (ipcc.ch)
Five things we've learned from UN climate report - BBC News
Five graphics show UN climate report in brutal detail | The Independent
UN climate change report: Catastrophic warming will claim lives without action - The Washington Post
Scientists deliver ‘final warning’ on climate crisis: act now or it’s too late | Climate crisis | The Guardian
IPCC climate change report: Can we avoid 1.5°C of global warming? | New Scientist
Humanity at the climate crossroads: highway to hell or a liveable future? | Climate crisis | The Guardian
Expert reaction to the AR6 synthesis report, as published by the IPCC | Science Media Centre