The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) on the Physical Science Basis was released on Monday 10th August 2021. This report contains new findings on the climate system and climate change using the latest advances in climate science, and integrating that with multiple evidences from paleoclimate, observation data, physical processes and global and regional climate simulations.
The key conclusions from the report:The world is EXTREMELY LIKELY to exceed 2 degrees warming during the 21st century if greenhouse gas emissions do not start to decline significantly before 2050. Not only that but Global temperatures are set to exceed 1.5°C of warming earlier than previously projected in the early 2030s. This is only about a decade or 10 years away. This sort of warming will have significant influences on the already climate change impacts that our communities are experiencing. This is very consistent with the temperature projection for Solomon Islands which is expected to increase by 0.6°C to 1.7°C by 2040.
Global Sea levels will rise by 0.10–0.25 metres by 2050 irrespective of a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Based on sea level data from the Honiara tide gauge with records starting from 1981, sea level is expected to increase between 0.29 to 1.05 metres by 2100 and will exacerbate coastal erosion and storm surges which are already huge problems in our islands. In some cases, some coastlines may retreat by 30 metres by 2050 according to the report. Other major impacts will include fresh water availability as a result of salt water intrusion due to higher sea level.
The report also highlights that extreme rainfall which are usually the main causes of flooding are likely to intensify by 7% per degree of warming. Although tropical cyclones are projected fewer in the region, these fewer cyclones are also expected to intensify in strengths which could also have implications for heavy rainfall and storm surges.
Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, Disaster Management and Meteorology said, “Our standing position on the IPCCC reports in relation to the Conference of Parties (COP) negotiation is that the COP and our global efforts under the United Nations Framework Convention Climate Change and Paris Agreement is that it must be based on science. In other words, the COP must welcome these IPCCC reports including the recent special reports to inform negotiations on key areas such as the finalisation of the Paris Rulebook. This is very crucial because major emitters and parties with historical responsibilities and strong dependence on fossil fuels have been resisting the serious uptake of these scientific reports by COP.
Major emitters (both developing and developed countries) must demonstrate leadership in reducing their greenhouse gas emissions drastically to limit global warmingto below 1.5 degrees celcius because countries such as the Solomon Islands which bear little to negligible responsibility for climate change are already disproportionately suffering the impacts of climate change, and facing challenges in addressing our growing adaptation and developing needs.