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Bristol scientists contribute to high-profile IPCC climate report

Press release issued: 9 August 2021

The 6th Assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was released today. The report provides information to policymakers on the most up to date climate science, and will play an important role in informing decision making at the forthcoming United Nations COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November.

This latest report represents the “gold standard” of climate science collaboration, and the most authoritative collective voice on the state of climate science around the world. It was prepared over a 3-year period by scientists from 66 countries, and includes assessment of over 14,000 scientific publications.

Six climate scientists from the University of Bristol's Cabot Institute for the Environment were amongst the authors of the latest IPCC report, playing a role in 8 out of the 15 sections, including the overarching Summary for Policymakers and Technical Summary.

The key messages of the report include that:

  • We’ve known for decades that the world is warming. Recent changes in the climate are widespread, rapid, and intensifying. 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 heat waves, heavy rainfall, and droughts, more frequent and severe.
  • Climate change is already affecting every inhabited region on Earth, in multiple ways. The changes we experience will increase with further warming.
  • There’s no going back from some changes in the climate system. However, some of these changes could be slowed and others could be stopped or reversed by limiting warming.
  • Unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, limiting warming to 1.5°C will be beyond 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.

The specific Bristol contributions are:

Chapter 2 (Changing state of the climate system): Dan Lunt (Contributing Author), Matt Palmer (Contributing Author)

Chapter 3 (Human influence on the climate system): Jonathan Bamber (Contributing Author), Eunice Lo (Contributing Author), Dan Lunt (Contributing Author), Dann Mitchell (Review Editor)

Chapter 7 (The Earth’s energy budget, climate feedbacks, and climate sensitivity): Dan Lunt (Lead Author), Matt Palmer (Lead Author)

Chapter 9 (Ocean, cryosphere and sea level change): Jonathan Bamber (Contributing Author), Matt Palmer (Contributing Author)

Chapter 10 (Linking global to regional climate change): Joe Daron (Contributing Author)

Interactive Atlas: Joe Daron (Contributing Author)

Technical Summary: Matt Palmer (Coordinating Author), Dan Lunt (Contributing Author)

Summary for Policymakers: Matt Palmer (Drafting Author)

Further information

Read the IPCC report, AR6 Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis

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