Everything, Everywhere, All at once

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has just published the last report from their sixth assessment cycle – a cycle that has spanned eight years and involved 700 scientists from 91 countries.

Windturbines in a field

There isn’t any new science in the so-called “synthesis report”. Rather, it’s a compilation of key findings from the panel’s recently published work. Intended as a summary for policymakers, it will serve as what The Guardian is calling “the scientific gold standard for advice to governments in this crucial decade”.

The IPCC will next convene in 2030, and the world’s leading climate experts have made it clear that there is not a minute to lose in implementing their advice. “This report is a clarion call to massively fast-track climate efforts by every country and every sector and on every timeframe,” said UN secretary general António Guterres. “Our world needs climate action on all fronts: everything, everywhere, all at once.”

This report highlights “not only the urgency of the problem and the gravity of it, but also lots of reasons for hope – because we still have the time to act and we have everything we need,” said leading climate scientist Professor Friederike Otto.

WHAT ABOUT FOOD?

“While shifting energy use to [solar and wind] systems represents the most powerful climate solution available, some food and agriculture solutions follow close behind,” reported Civil Eats.

The authors of the synthesis report estimate that an overhaul of the food system could provide nearly one-third of the greenhouse gas reductions needed. “Transforming food systems is now an urgent priority and a massive opportunity,” said Million Belay, a food systems expert with nonprofit IPES-Food. “Food production, suggests the findings of the IPCC report, must change profoundly if the world is to reach net-zero,” reported Food Navigator.

And when it comes to the impact of wasted food alone, it accounts for around half of all global food system emissions, according to a new study

What about food, indeed? As overwhelming as the prospect of profound change feels, The Guardian outlined simple solutions available on an individual level –from shifting to a (primarily) plant-based diet to reducing food waste.

And there are moves happening on a larger scale, too. WRAP and WWF have just announced a partnership with some of the UK’s biggest supermarkets to standardise how the carbon footprint of food and drink products is measured and reported, with the aim of slashing emissions by 2030.

STEP BY STEP

If you’re experiencing some IPCC déjà vu, it’s because it was around this time last year that we wrote about their publication of the latest report highlighting strategies to drive down greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the effects of the climate crisis.

Only three months into 2023, where are we now? While the relentless news cycle might make it seem otherwise, there has been steady progress in the fight against climate change – worldwide, and closer to home. 

A road map to establish the historic “loss and damage” fund, which provides financial assistance to developing countries dealing with climate catastrophes, has been agreed by negotiators just a few weeks ago. 

The first ever UK-wide citizens’ assembly for nature was held over the course of last month, with the members of the public invited to attend presentations by a range of experts including farmers, local authorities, and academics.

Their resulting recommendations for how to renew and protect the natural environment have been published in a report titled the People’s Plan for Nature. “Together we will make the Plan too big to ignore by showing just how many people stand behind it,” declares a statement on their website.

Want to join the chorus? Add your voice, here.

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