IPCC Chair Jim Skea’s remarks at the One Planet Polar Summit

One Planet Polar Summit, Ministerial segment.

Paris, 09 Nov 2023,

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Excellencies, ministers, distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

It is my privilege to address you as the Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – the IPCC.

I’m grateful to the French Government for the opportunity to address the One Planet Polar Summit.

The IPCC is a unique interface between scientists and policymakers. Earlier this year, we completed the Sixth Assessment Report. Its findings are sobering.

We concluded that that human influence is unequivocally causing climate change. Global warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during this century unless there are immediate, rapid, and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Our planet has already warmed by 1.1 degrees Celsius, and even more in the polar regions.

Many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented in thousands of years and some of the changes already set in motion—such as continued sea level rise—are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years. Changes in the polar regions ripple across the whole planet. 

In our Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, we showed that sea levels rose by around 15 cm during the 20th century, and are currently rising at more than twice that rate.  We showed that the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets have been losing mass since the 1990s; that we have been losing Arctic sea ice since the 1970s; and that glaciers are in retreat. While uncertainties remain, we can be sure that these trends will continue and further risks, such as permafrost degradation, may emerge.

Ladies and gentlemen,

These and other key scientific findings point to the urgency of climate action. We have agency; we have the policies, the know-how, and the financial resources to shape our future. An equitable and  just transition is essential, building on climate action that is, and is perceived to be, genuinely and fundamentally fair and inclusive.

In closing, as the Chair of the IPCC I can reassure you that the scientific community will continue to bring new knowledge and understanding relevant for shaping policies.

Thank you.