IPCC Declares Climate Change ‘Code Red’

On August  9, 2021 the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Climate Change 2021 Physical Science Basis report. The report describes unprecedented changes in the Earth’s climate for hundreds of thousands of years, across the global climate system. Many of these changes are unequivocally caused by humans and some, already set in motion, are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. It was created to provide global policymakers with regular scientific assessments on climate change, its implications and potential risks and to propose adaptation and mitigation options. The IPCC organizes expert meetings and workshops on various topics, prepares assessment reports, special reports and methodology reports. 

Through its assessments, the IPCC determines the state of knowledge on climate change, identifies where there is agreement in the scientific community on topics related to climate change, and where further research is needed. Its reports are drafted and reviewed in several stages, thereby guaranteeing objectivity and transparency. IPCC reports provide neutral, policy-relevant (not policy-prescriptive) information to guide negotiations to tackle climate change.


What does this mean for us?

Regional Fact Sheets prepared by the IPCC contain regionalized information pulled from the Physical Science basis report. The Regional Fact Sheet for North and Central America explains that climate shifts will become increasingly more prominent in North America. 

Under all future scenarios and global warming levels, temperatures and extreme high temperatures are virtually certain to increase with larger warming in northern subregions. Relative sea level rise will increase along most coasts along with increased coastal flooding and erosion. We will see increased ocean acidification, intensity and duration of heatwaves. As well, strong declines in glaciers, permafrost and snow cover will continue and affect us. 

In the coming decades climate change will increase in all regions of the planet. In the Pacific Northwest and on the Sunshine Coast these changes will include:

  • Increased temperatures and intensified summer droughts resulting in water use restrictions and forest fires. 
  • Intensified winter rainfall causing flooding and damaging infrastructure e.g. road washouts
  • Continued Sea Level Rise resulting in shoreline erosion and impacts on the marine foreshore.
  • Marine heatwaves, ocean acidification, and reduced oxygen levels affecting ocean ecosystems and fisheries. 
  • Heat island effect in cities and migration of populations to rural areas and growing impacts on resources and loss of forested lands for development. 


What can we do?

Although the reports clearly outline inevitable, increasing and irreversible climate change impacts, the IPCC also remains hopeful that with strong and sustained reductions in global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases there is still time to limit climate change impacts. 

Work being done by the SCCA to address forestry practices, protect Old Growth, species at risk, watersheds, groundwater recharge areas and fish all help to keep carbon sequestered in forests and soils and mitigate climate impacts. We have consistently pushed back against fossil fuel expansion in our region, opposing Texada LNG, Salish Sea Coal, and continue to work to stop Woodfibre LNG through government processes. We are collaborating with NGO partners to develop and implement a carbon tracking Climate Action Project  to support evidence-based climate action planning and identify solutions to reduce emissions for individuals, businesses and local governments in the region. 

Working together with community, governments and NGO partners, using sound up-to-date science to guide us, we remain hopeful that our work will help to limit climate impacts in our world, for our communities and next generations.

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