Opening remarks by IPCC Chair at COP26 IPCC/SBSTA special event


IPCC/SBSTA special event on the Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report at COP26.
Glasgow, 04 November 2021

Thank you Mister Chair,

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,

I’m very pleased to address you this morning as Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – IPCC.

The talks at this landmark conference in Glasgow are now underway. These talks are informed by science and findings of IPCC reports.

Over the past several years, IPCC has delivered several critically important contributions: Global Warming of 1.5C, Climate Change and Land, Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, to mention a few.

Most recent is the contribution of the Working Group I to the Sixth Assessment Report, published this summer.

Here, I would like to recognize that this document – which clearly laid out for the policymakers worldwide the most up-to-date physical science basis for the understanding of the climate system and climate change – is dedicated to our late friend and colleague Sir John Houghton.

From 1988 to 2002 John was the chair and co-chair of the IPCC Working Group I, during the first three assessment reports. In recognition of these and other reports, in 2007, IPCC shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore. 

This brings me to this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics. Over 30 years later, modelling the Earth’s climate and the work of scientists who have contributed so much to our understanding of climate change have been recognized. Two of the three this year’s laurates –  Syukuro Manabe and Klaus Hasselmann – are IPCC authors. We congratulate Syukuro and Klaus for their great achievement!

The report we released in August is the first part of the Sixth Assessment Report. The second and third instalments are scheduled for release in February and March next year. Respectively, these contributions will provide us with the latest scientific knowledge about the impacts of climate change, adaptation, and mitigation. By September 2022 we will also bring together all these lines of research and evidence in the Synthesis Report, integrating our understanding of climate change and policy response.

The Working Group I contribution has been a significant achievement produced under very challenging circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based on the research of thousands of scientists worldwide and more than 14,000 scientific studies, a team of over 230 authors from 65 countries have worked together for over three years to deliver this report.

As with every IPCC report, the latest contribution underwent expert and government review, which is critical to deliver a robust, rigorous, exhaustive and objective assessment. We thank the experts and governments for their comments throughout this process. In total, the authors responded to more than 78,000 comments.

The report provides a reality check, grounded in new findings on the physical state of climate change. It reflects the magnitude of the collective challenge for all nations on this planet.

Allow me to stress the key findings:

For decades, we have known that the world is warming. Recent changes in the climate are widespread, rapid, and intensifying, sparing no part of the world. They are unprecedented in thousands of years.

It is indisputable that human activities are causing climate change. Human influence is making extreme climate events, including heatwaves, heavy rainfall, and droughts, more frequent and severe.

Climate change is already affecting every region on Earth, in multiple ways. The changes we experience will increase with further warming.

There is no going back from some changes in the climate system. However, some of these changes could be slowed and others could be stopped by limiting warming.

Unless there are immediate, rapid, and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to 1.5°C and even 2°C will be pushed beyond our reach.

To limit global warming, strong, rapid, and sustained reductions in CO2, methane, and other greenhouse gases are necessary. This would not only reduce the consequences of climate change but also improve air quality.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Delegates,

Since our previous Assessment Report in 2013, there have been major advances in science globally. They range from observations, understanding of processes in the climate system, global and regional modelling to insights into our past and future climates. This science, our knowledge of current trends and our understanding of future changes are also part of solutions. It is critical they are considered in adaptation strategies and adaptation funding, and mitigation measures.

Today, we have a much more precise and clearer picture of how the climate system works. It is essential that this knowledge is embraced as integral to the ongoing talks about our future actions as we collectively prepare for more frequent, more intense, new types of extremes and climate conditions.

I wish you a successful conference.

Thank you for your attention.


04 November 2021