The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its Sixth Assessment Report on April 4, detailing the status of climate change mitigation progress globally.

Global greenhouse gas emissions are still on the rise from levels in 2019, according to the report. The IPCC’s findings consistently reinforce how crucial governmental policies are in continuing the necessary progress in mitigating climate change.

“Achieving the global transition to a low-carbon, climate-resilient and sustainable world requires purposeful and increasingly coordinated planning and decisions at many scales of governance including local, subnational, national and global levels,” said the IPCC.

The report also had a lot to say about the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted climate change and what we know about it. For one, the pandemic brought about “a steep drop in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel and industry.”

Aside from direct impacts on the climate, the way that the pandemic was handled can provide a lot of insight into climate mitigation efforts. “The lockdowns implemented in many countries in response to the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated that behavioural change at a massive scale and in a short time is possible,” according to the IPCC.

It is important to look at how climate change will impact developing nations versus developed nations, as well as the ways these countries have differing levels of ability to aid in mitigation efforts. According to the report, “The global wealthiest 10% contribute about 36-45% of global GHG emissions.”

In any case, it is essential that governments take large-scale actions. “Robust incentives for investment in innovation, especially incentives reinforced by national policy and international agreements, are central to accelerating low-carbon technological change,” the report said.

This pattern of wealthier nations contributing disproportionately to higher emissions is mirrored on the individual level as well. Wealthy individuals perhaps hold the most power aside from governments.

“Individuals with high socio-economic status are capable of reducing their GHG emissions by becoming role models of low-carbon lifestyles, investing in low-carbon businesses, and advocating for stringent climate policies,” says the IPCC.

For those wondering what they personally can do to make the most impact, the IPCC calculated that “among 60 identified actions that could change individual consumption, individual mobility choices have the largest potential to reduce carbon footprints.”

“Prioritizing car-free mobility by walking and cycling and adoption of electric mobility” is the biggest thing any one person can do to make a difference, the report said. “Other options with high mitigation potential include reducing air travel, cooling setpoint adjustments, reduced appliance use, shifts to public transit, and shifting consumption towards plant-based diets.”

Read the full report here.

Editor’s note: This article is the first in a series this week for Earth Day 2022 (April 22).

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