On March 20 2023 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Synthesis Report of the 6th Assessment Report, after intense discussions and negotiations between the scientists and governments on the Summary for Policymakers (SPM). 

The IPCC is the UN’s climate science body, responsible for producing scientific reports that offer policymakers and the public crucial evidence on the status of the climate crisis. The SPM is also supported by a longer, more detailed report.

Below, CARE highlights ten key takeaways from the report, plus original quotes from the Summary.

1. Humans are the cause of the climate crisis

“Human activities, principally through emissions of greenhouse gases, have unequivocally caused global warming, with global surface temperature reaching 1.1°C above 1850–1900 in 2011–2020.”

“Climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health. The choices and actions implemented in this decade will have impacts now and for thousands of years.”

2. The adverse impacts of climate change are widely visible 

“Widespread  and  rapid  changes  in  the  atmosphere,  ocean,  cryosphere  and  biosphere  have occurred. Human-caused climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe. This has led to widespread adverse impacts and related losses and damages  to  nature  and  people.”  

“Risks and projected adverse impacts and related losses and damages from climate change escalate with every increment of global warming.”

3. Those who have done the least to cause the problem are among the most vulnerable

“Vulnerable  communities  who  have  historically contributed the least to current climate change are disproportionately affected.

Without rapid,  deep and sustained mitigation and accelerated adaptation actions, losses and damages will continue to increase,  including projected adverse impacts in Africa, LDCs, SIDS, Central and South America, Asia and the Arctic, and will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable populations.”

4. Adaptation gaps are severe, and adaptation finance provided to developing countries is insufficient

“Despite  progress,  adaptation  gaps  exist,  and  will continue to grow at current rates of implementation. Hard and soft limits to adaptation have been reached in some ecosystems and regions. Current global financial flows for adaptation are insufficient for, and constrain implementation of, adaptation options, especially in developing countries.”

5. Immediate and deep emission reductions of at least 43% by 2030 can close the gap 

“Deep, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse  gas  emissions would lead to a discernible  slowdown in global warming within around two decades, and also to discernible changes in atmospheric composition within a few years.”

“Some future changes are unavoidable and/or irreversible but can be limited by deep, rapid and sustained global greenhouse gas emissions reduction.” 

“The likelihood of abrupt and/or irreversible changes  increases  with  higher  global  warming  levels.”

6. Investments into fossil fuels must but be stopped

“Projected  CO2 emissions from existing  fossil  fuel  infrastructure  without  additional abatement would exceed the remaining carbon budget for 1.5°C.”

7. Mitigation and adaptation can reduce, but not fully avoid, losses and damages

“Deep, rapid and sustained mitigation and accelerated implementation of adaptation actions in this  decade  would  reduce  projected  losses  and  damages  for  humans  and  ecosystems, and  deliver many co-benefits,  especially  for  air  quality and  health.”

8. Prioritizing equity and climate justice, including gender justice, is critical for the design of enabling policy frameworks

“Prioritising  equity,  climate  justice,  social  justice,  inclusion  and  just  transition  processes  can enable adaptation and ambitious mitigation actions and climate resilient development.” 

“Adaptation outcomes are enhanced by increased support to regions and people with the highest vulnerability to climatic hazards.”

“Vulnerabilities and climate risks are often reduced through carefully designed and implemented laws, policies,  participatory processes, and interventions that address context specific inequities such as those based on gender,  ethnicity, disability, age, location and income.”

9. The world has enough capital to tackle the climate crisis and action is less costly than inaction, but finance to developing countries must be ramped up 

“Finance, technology and international cooperation are critical enablers for accelerated climate action. If climate goals are to be achieved, both adaptation and mitigation financing would need to increase many-fold.

There is sufficient global capital to close the global investment gaps but there are barriers to redirect capital to climate action. Enhancing  international cooperation is possible through multiple channels.”

10. Accelerated action is critical

“There is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.”

“Rapid and far-reaching transitions across all sectors and systems are necessary to achieve deep and sustained emissions reductions and secure a liveable and sustainable future for all. These system transitions involve a significant upscaling of a wide portfolio of mitigation and adaptation options.”

“Accelerated and equitable action in mitigating and adapting to climate change impacts is critical to sustainable development. Mitigation and adaptation actions have more synergies than trade-offs with  Sustainable Development Goals.”