Climate change in the critical decade

03 November 2022

A summary of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report and its implications for the UK.

Climate change is a major global challenge of our times, and rapid action is required to limit its further impacts.

What is the IPCC Assessment Report?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published a series of three reports, known collectively as the Sixth Assessment Report. These report on the latest findings on the science of climate change, the impacts and adaptation options and the mitigation of climate change.

The briefing summarises the key findings of the IPCC reports and examines their implications for the UK. It looks at how the UK is responding to climate change, what measures can accelerate the UK response, and how research can support this.

What are the impacts of climate change for the UK?

Key messages of the briefing include:

  • Stabilisation of the climate below 2°C can only be achieved with immediate actions that lead to deep and rapid cuts in global emissions of greenhouse gases to reach net zero. Human induced climate change is already causing adverse impacts on people and nature and these adverse impacts will increase with increased warming. The IPCC emphasise the urgent need to adapt to adverse climate impacts as well as reach net zero.
  • The UK is already seeing increases in temperatures and changes in rainfall. Winter storms, flooding and extreme heat experienced in the UK and Europe in 2022 are consistent with the expected effects of climate change. It is clear the UK needs to adapt now.
  • The UK has set a target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Strategies to achieve net zero greenhouse gases in the UK include a range of measures including a shift to low-carbon energy, improved efficiency and reduced demand, and removal of CO2 from the atmosphere. These require consistent policy, infrastructure planning, and research and development in areas including energy storage, renewable energy, agricultural emissions reductions and carbon capture and storage.

Watch Professor Eric Wolff FRS comment on the report