Achieving net zero will require action from everyone – and a renewed emphasis on science and innovation
- Patrick Vallance is the UK government chief scientific adviser
The release today of the first part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s sixth assessment report makes for stark reading. It reaffirms that anthropogenic climate change is real, present and lasting: it is now unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land to an unprecedented degree, with effects almost certain to worsen through the coming decades.
The report also dispels any notion that the effects of the climate crisis are abstract or distant. Extreme events are being felt across the world, from wildfires in Australia, Sweden and north-west America to heatwaves in Siberia and Canada and the devastating drought in South Africa. Evidence has grown since the last assessment report that human activity has exacerbated extreme weather events. Without urgent action, such events will continue to get worse. Moreover, sea levels are projected to rise over this century. Rises of as much as 2m cannot be ruled out, leaving low-lying lands and coastal communities extremely vulnerable.