School of GeoSciences Research

Starkest warning yet - the latest climate report

The latest United Nations IPCC (AR6) report is the most sobering assessment ever on the climate crisis - with major changes already inevitable and irreversible. Here's what you need to know...

A child sits on the shoulders of an adult walking in a climate protest. She is holding a balloon shaped like the planet Earth

In August 2021, the IPCC published the first instalment, 'The Physical Science Basis', of its long-awaited Sixth Assessment Report (AR6).

It made news headlines around the world and responses from key figures, including global political leaders. 

Crucially, this report is being used to inform the discussions of world leaders at the UN climate change talks (known as COP26) in November 2021.  

Time to act

So what does the report say?  

We are among the world-leading climate scientists contributing to the IPCC reports - so we've provided the following information for you.

At a glance:

  • It is now undeniable that human activity has warmed the atmosphere, oceans and land.
  • All regions of the world are already experiencing the impacts.
  • Major climate changes are inevitable and irreversible for 'centuries to millennia'.
  • Human-caused climate change is influencing extreme weather events, which will become even worse in the coming decades.
  • The amounts of snow and ice have diminished, and sea level has risen.
  • Global warming could exceed the 1.5C danger limit set out in the Paris Agreement as soon as the 2030's.
  • Projections on future warming reveal changes will escalate -  with effects we cannot fully anticipate.
  • Only drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions this decade can prevent us from rising global temperatures to a disastrous extent.

What you need to know

The latest IPCC report, produced by hundreds of the world's top scientists runs into thousands of pages.

It can make for grim reading. However, its important to know some aspects of the IPCC's findings to understand what the future might look like and what we can do about it.

So, we've broken down some of the key highlights for you:

Global warming - Earth's climate is changing

Image of ships at a port, with a factory in the background emitting plumes of smoke
The climate crisis is 'unequivocally' caused by human activities. We are already experiencing the impacts of climate change, but changes will continue to escalate - with effects we cannot fully anticipate.

Extreme weather is on the rise

A photo showing several people's legs wearing wellington boots as they wade through floodwaters
From record-breaking heatwaves and wildfires to disastrous floods, human-caused climate change is devastating our planet. And it will get worse...

Ice is melting and the sea level is rising

A large section of melting ice falling off a glacier into the sea
The ocean and cryosphere (the frozen parts of our planet) are critical for life on Earth. However, ice is melting at an unprecedented rate, sea levels are rising, and oceans are warming - with more to come.

Want to know more?

We've provided some useful links for you.  To see the information, simply click on each heading below: