The world’s top climate scientists have said that there is a rapidly closing window to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.

Released on Monday, the latest United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report notes that the pace and scale of what has been done so far, as well as current plans, are insufficient to tackle climate change.

The study highlights the losses and damages currently being experienced and those expected into the future, but ultimately offers hope that if we act rapidly and immediately, a sustainable future can be achieved.

The study points to an “emissions gap” between 2030 Green House Gas emissions, based on pledges by national governments prior to COP26, and the modelled mitigation pathways required to limit warming to 1.5°C. Essentially, what has been committed is not sufficient to limit global warming in this century.

The secretary general of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, who called the report 'a survival guide for humanity', said every country and every sector must massively fast-track climate efforts.

He has proposed an 'acceleration Agenda' to “super-charge” these efforts, and called on leaders of developed countries to commit to reaching net zero as close as possible to 2040.

Food in focus

Food and land use are among key contributors to global warming according to the study. It notes that more than a century of burning fossil fuels, as well as unequal and unsustainable energy and land use, has led to global warming of 1.1°C above pre-industrial level.

The study paints a sober picture of the ongoing impact of climate change on many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe, damaging nature and impacting people.

For any future warming level, the study forecasts that long term impacts are up to multiple times higher than currently observed.

Among other rapidly escalating hazards, climate-driven food and water insecurity is expected to rise with increased warming.

However, the report notes that changes in the food sector, electricity, transport, industry, buildings and land-use can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The future is in our hands

The future really is in our hands was the message from Prof Peter Thorne, Climate Scientist at Maynooth University and one of the lead authors of the IPCC study.

Speaking at the report launch, he said we will in all probability reach one and a half degrees early int he next decade. But after that it really is our choice.

The rest of this decade is key, and the question is whether we can apply the brakes to stop the warming in our lifetime, said Prof Thorne.


This is yet another landmark report from the IPCC, which sets out the dire consequences both now and into the future of climate change, and our potential to chart a different course. It is stark reading.

Scientists are very confident that the window is rapidly closing to halt the worst effects of climate change. Yet they also offer hope. But it requires “deep, rapid and sustained mitigation and accelerated implementation of adaption actions in this decade”.

Essentially it is calling for much more rapid transformational change across business and society. The message from Irish scientist Prof Peter Thorne is simple. We are beyond the point where climate change can be somebody else’s problem.

We at all levels – governments, communities and individuals have made climate change somebody else’s problem. Do not say it is your government's problem or your community’s problem. It is your problem as part of that country and as part of that community to make the difference at this point, said Prof Thorne.