“Recent climate action announcements might give the impression that we are on track to turn things around. This is an illusion,” said UN secretary general António Guterres at COP26 in Glasgow. He is urging world leaders to choose ‘ambition’. “We face a stark choice: either we stop [the addiction to fossil fuels] or it stops us. Shaping the discussions at the summit are some of the reports published in 2021 as the world geared up for the next COP.
Reports that are Shaping COP26
In anticipation of the 26th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26), now happening in Glasgow, many governmental and non-governmental organizations have issued reports updating their accounts of climate change and its impacts during 2021.
The most weighty of these reports, literally and figuratively, is the nearly 4,000-page Working Group 1 report. It’s the first of three working group reports comprising the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report. Working Groups 2 and 3 reports, dealing with climate impacts and potential mitigating strategies respectively, are to be issued in early 2022.
Gearing up for COP26
The International Energy Agency, the United Nations Environment Program, the World Meteorological Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and Lancet’s Countdown on Health and Climate Change have adapted regularly scheduled reports for the special circumstances of COP26.
In the U.S., the White House has sketched out its climate plans in a series of brief reports, including “A Roadmap to Build a Climate-Resilient Economy,” with details in the list below. Reports by non-governmental organizations describe a business community and an American public they see as increasingly ready to act on climate change.
Finally, different groups and consortiums in the United Kingdom – which will host the COP26 meeting in Glasgow, Scotland – have generated a series of reports and topic-specific briefings.
As always, the descriptions of these reports are drawn from copy provided by the organizations publishing them. Free downloads are available for all of the reports in this list; however, some organizations require that visitors first register.
Working Group Report 1
Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, by Working Group 1 (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 2021, 3949 pages, full report available here)
The Working Group I report addresses the most updated physical understanding of the climate system and climate change, bringing together the latest advances in climate science, and combining multiple lines of evidence from paleoclimate, observations, process understanding, global and regional climate simulations. It shows how and why climate has changed to date, and the improved understanding of human influence on a wider range of climate characteristics, including extreme events. There will be a greater focus on regional information that can be used for climate risk assessments. The Summary for Policymakers of the Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) is available here.
IEA – World Energy Outlook 2021
Against the backdrop of turbulent markets and a crucial meeting of the COP26 conference on climate change in Glasgow, the 2021 World Energy Outlook (WEO) provides an indispensable guide to the opportunities, benefits and risks ahead at this vital moment for clean energy transitions. The WEO is the energy world’s most authoritative source of analysis and projections. This flagship publication of the IEA has appeared every year since 1998. Its objective data and dispassionate analysis provide critical insights into global energy supply and demand in different scenarios and the implications for energy security, climate targets and economic development.
UNEP – The Production Gap 2021 Report
The Production Gap 2021: Governments’ Planned Fossil Fuel Production Remains Dangerously Out of Sync with Paris Agreement Limits, by Ploy Achakulwisut, Michael Lazarus, and Miquel Muñoz Cabré, coordinating lead authors (Stockholm Environment Institute / United Nations Environment Progamme 2021, 104 pages, free download available here)
The Production Gap Report tracks the discrepancy between governments’ planned fossil fuel production and global production levels consistent with limiting warming to 1.5°C or 2°C. This year’s report presents the first comprehensive update of the gap since our 2019 assessment. The report also tracks how governments worldwide are supporting fossil fuel production through their policies, investments, and other measures, as well as how some are beginning to discuss and enact policies towards a managed and equitable transition away from fossil fuel production. The report also includes individual country profiles for 15 major fossil fuel-producing countries, and a special chapter on the role of transparency in helping to address the production gap.
The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change
The 2021 Report of the Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change: Code Red for a Healthy Future, by Marina Rominello (The Lancet 2021, 44 pages, free download available here)
The Lancet Countdown is an international collaboration that independently monitors the health consequences of a changing climate; the 44 indicators of this report expose an unabated rise in health impacts. The 2021 report coincides with the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change 26th Conference of the Parties, at which countries are facing pressure to realize the ambition of the Paris Agreement to keep the global average temperature rise to 1·5°C and to mobilize the financial resources required. These negotiations also unfold in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic – a crisis that has claimed millions of lives, affected livelihoods, and exposed deep inequities in the world’s capacity to cope with health emergencies. Paradoxically, however, the two crises offer an unprecedented opportunity to ensure a healthy future for all.
Blueprint 2030 for Emissions Reductions
Blueprint 2030: An All-In Climate Strategy for Faster, More Durable Emissions Reductions, by Michael Bloomberg (America Is All In 2021, 61 pages, free download available here, executive summary here)
This report provides a blueprint for an all-in, whole-of-society approach to climate change mitigation that combines the unique power and strengths of each part of society to give us the best chance for the rapid, durable, transformative change needed to cut emissions by at least 50 percent by 2030 and set the stage for a fully decarbonized economy well in advance of mid-century. An all-in, all-of-society approach to climate that combines the unique power and strengths of each part of society and builds on the foundation of expanded bottom-up leadership gives us the best chance for rapid, durable, transformative change while promoting a clean and prosperous economy.
The Climate Crisis is a Child Rights Crisis
The Climate Crisis Is a Child Rights Crisis presents the Children’s Climate Risk Index (CCRI), which uses data to generate new global evidence on how many children are currently exposed to climate and environmental hazards, shocks and stresses. A composite index, the CCRI brings together geographical data by analyzing 1) exposure to climate and environmental hazards, shocks and stresses; and 2) child vulnerability. The CCRI helps to understand and measure the likelihood of climate and environmental shocks or stresses leading to the erosion of development progress, the deepening of deprivation and/or humanitarian situations affecting children or vulnerable
WMO Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses
WMO Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses from Weather, Climate and Water Extremes (1970-2019), by James Douris and Geunhye et al (World Meteorological Organization 2021, 90 pages, free download available here.)
The WMO Atlas provides an overview of impacts from weather, climate and water extremes globally from 1970 to 2019 based on disaster data from the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT). Disaster statistics are conducted for the 50-year and decadal periods at the national, regional and global scales. A special section describes the disproportionate impacts that tropical cyclones have on disaster statistics as well as on developing countries. Contributions from UNDRR and WHO discuss relevant sectoral loss and damage statistics, the challenges and opportunities in recording and analyzing loss and damage data, and they consider the implementation of the Sendai Framework agreement and the 2030 global agenda.
Other Reports – a more complete summary is available here.
Politics & Global Warming: September 2021, by Anthony Leiserowitz and Edward Maibach et al (Yale Program on Climate Change Communication* and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication 2021, 41 pages, free download available here)
The 2021 Climate Survey: Responding to Humanity’s Code Red, by ERM Survey (GlobeScan and SustainAbility 2021, 31 pages, free download available here)
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