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Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Compilation of Synthesis

The report in question is 37 pages long, summarizing the three volumes – plus the three special reports – for a total of 10,000 pages, based on 50,000 scientific studies. Suffice it to say that if we confine ourselves to only the ‘highlights’, the picture would naturally look darker.

The fact remains that it is the same picture that we have been able to hear through the three volumes, published respectively in 2021 and 2022: Every fraction of a degree Celsius of additional increase will double severe weather events, 3 billion people live in areas at risk, all systems are affected. environmental, closing the window of opportunity to make a change, etc.

Like the previous five IPCC 30-year reports (1990, 1995, 2001, 2007 and 2013-2014), the sixth report was also a synthesis of the international scientific literature. What has changed between the first and sixth reports is that the picture has been greatly improved: we know much more about the behavior of our planet’s climates, and we have more techniques for collecting and analyzing mountains of data. Already, when the first volume of the sixth report was published, in August 2021, observers noted that over time, the language had become more “strong”: between “the body of evidence indicating a marked human impact on the planet’s climate” in 1995, we had moved on to “the fact that no unmistakable” in 2021.

At most, the public is more aware than it was in the early 1990s, a factor that contributed to the social sciences’ entry into the sixth report.

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But to some extent, the picture remains the same as it was 30 years ago: the bleak predictions of climate models have largely been confirmed, and the margins of error about future temperature increases have narrowed. Predictions can often be blamed for being wrong because they fall short of the truth. We did not imagine, at the beginning of the 1990s, that the ice caps would melt so rapidly, nor that “breaking points” would soon occur: we now know that many of these thresholds—beyond which the natural order becomes irrevocably disrupted—are being overcome.

The ball is in the court of governments and their citizens, recall the synthesis of documents, as it was 30 years ago. The political or economic choices made in the past three decades have already had an impact on the climate, and the speed with which priorities change now will have an impact on the decades to come.

Photo: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change meeting in 2014 / UNFCCC / Wikipedia Commons