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GIST OF RAJYA SABHA TV (RStv Debate): Global temperature: UN's code red

  • Published
    14th Aug, 2021


  • United Nations’ inter-governmental panel on climate change (IPCC) has projected global temperature to reach or exceed 1.5°C of warming over the next 20 years under all scenarios.

In this brief, all aspects of the projections made by IPCC are discussed and analysed.

Edited Excerpts from the debate

Big takes from the Report

  • Report: Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis
  • The 6th assessment report of the IPCC was summarized on the “physical science basis” for climate change
  • The key findings and conclusion of the coveted report show a ‘code red’ warning for humanity with global temperatures likely to rise 5°C in 20 years.
  • The 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold is a crucial global target because beyond this level, so-called tipping points become more likely.

Tipping points refer to an irreversible change in the climate system, locking in further global heating.

  • Levels of CO2, the primary driver of global heating, were higher in 2019 than at any time in “at least 2 million years”.
  • Levels of methane and nitrous oxide, the second and third biggest drivers of warming respectively, were higher in 2019 than at any time in “at least 800,000 years”.
  • Humans are primarily responsible for the “unequivocal” warming of the planet and for causing “widespread & rapid” changes to Earth’s oceans, ice, and land surface.
  • The present state of changes in the climate system is “unprecedented” and “irreversible” and thus cannot be ruled out.

What is for India in the Report?

  • India should expect heatwaves and continuation of melting of Himalayan glaciers and massively heavy rainfalls towards the end of the century.
  • India is also hailed as the world’s third-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, however, its emissions per head are low owing to its large population of 1.3 billion.

Indian initiatives to combat climate change

  • India’s International Solar Alliance
  • the coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure
  • the government’s big push to electric vehicles
  • an ambitious domestic RE target of 450 GW by 2030
  •  the National Hydrogen Mission

Suggestion made in the report

  • Negative emission: The report noted that a "strong and sustained" deduction in carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases will benefit the environment as air quality will improve quickly while global temperatures could take 20 to 30 years to stabilize.

The report makes it clear: we must act now to reduce human emissions of heat-trapping gases—particularly carbon dioxide and methane—in order to avoid worse-case future scenarios.    

Value Addition

What is the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)?

  • The IPCC is a U.N. body of 195 member states that assesses the science related to the climate crisis.
  • It was founded in 1988 by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization.
  • It aims to provide world leaders with periodic updates about the scale of the climate emergency, its implications and risks and to put forward adaptation and mitigation strategies.

About the Report

  • Since the foundation of the IPCC in 1988, it has published five sets of “assessment reports.”
  • Each one of them lays out the rapidly accumulating evidence of a changing climate system in a comprehensive and consistent manner.
  • Prior to the latest report, the fifth assessment report (AR5) – was published in 2013-14.The Report provided the key scientific input to the Paris Agreement.
    • Almost 200 countries ratified the Paris climate accord at COP21 in 2015, agreeing to limit the planet’s temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C.

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