Reflecting on the recent IPCC Report on Climate Change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the most important international body focused on climate science. It has existed since 1988 and regularly summarises the secured results of climate science. It is composed of 3 working groups, dealing with the changes in the climate system, the vulnerability of social and ecological systems, as well as, their capacity to adapt and technological and social mitigation options. The current publication is the Synthesis Report of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), dedicated to giving an overview about the knowledge we currently possess, across all topic areas outlined above. Thereby, it presents a comprehensive picture of where we are and what we need to do.

As usually happens with climate science, the report can be seen through the lens of climate doom and gloom. Compared to the reference period of 1850-1900 the surface temperature has increased by 1.07°C. This estimate might contain a statistical error, for the full picture we recommend reading the report by the IPCC. Emissions from 2010-2019 have been higher than in any decade before. Heat waves increasing all over the world come with the unbearable thought of a world where extreme weather events are the norm. This dystopian vision is flanked by climate change-induced catastrophes that happened already and will continue to increase in frequency and strength . All this is distributed unevenly across the planet.

The people who have contributed the least to the problem are bearing the brunt of its consequences. And those who are not born yet are doomed to experience the catastrophe summoned, largely by a small group of countries and actors within them.

But. The report can also be viewed from a different perspective, the “Yes, we can”- perspective.

We have implemented measures that make a difference, both regarding mitigation and adaptation. We have what we need to turn the tide of climate change. The growth of global emissions has finally decreased.

The IPCC states with high confidence that more than 50% of emissions are covered by policies and that measures are effective. Furthermore, the unit costs of renewable energy technologies are decreasing significantly and their deployment is progressing.

Two anecdotes vividly underline how we can turn those achievements into a large-scale transition. Only a few years ago electric vehicles (EVs) were not a part of daily life. In the meanwhile, this has changed in many countries and it now begins to feel like a reality that in the near future EVs will replace internal combustion engines. Furthermore, we learnt an important lesson during the COVID-19 pandemic about the importance of everybody in common challenges. The curbing of each early wave of infections was tightly related to many individuals behaving more carefully. Individual actions matter and collective action can change the world.

There is a caveat in this optimism that we have to face. We waited for too long for the elegant solution. Unfortunately, because certain stakeholders have delayed climate action, we now have to take quick and drastic steps. This will bring challenges and difficulties, and as every change does – the green transition may cause new injustices. Nevertheless, we have to walk down this path. We have to do it because the costs of inaction are simply greater than the cost of action and for the sake of the planet, those suffering the most without a chance to protect themselves and for the generations unborn.

The graphic above, taken from the IPCC report, puts the challenge ahead of us into perspective and shows that we still have a real chance. Various technologies are available at achievable prices and possess the potential to make a significant impact. We have to reduce global annual emissions of 55 and 65 gigatonnes of emissions by 50% in 2030. From the graphic, multiple options are discernible. Policy solutions must be developed to address the climate crisis quickly.

The message is clear, this is possible. We just have to do it.

Together we can overcome the challenges that were caused by hesitation and leave no one behind. We owe it to ourselves and future generations to act now.

//Arne Ellerbeck, The ICPS Team


IPCC, 2023: Synthesis Report of the IPCC Sixth Assessment REport (AR6). Longer Report. Contribution of the Core Writing Team. AR6 Synthesis Report: Climate Change 2023 (

IPCC, 2023: Synthesis Report of the IPCC Sixth Assessment REport (AR6). Longer Report. Contribution of the Core Writing Team. Figure 4.4. Figures: AR6 Synthesis Report (

IPCC, 2023: Synthesis Report of the IPCC Sixth Assessment REport (AR6). Longer Report. Contribution of the Core Writing Team. Figure SPM.1.Figures: AR6 Synthesis Report (

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