Experts React to Historic IPCC Report on Limiting Warming to 1.5°C

Historic IPCC Report

US Leaders

Former Secretary of State John Kerry:

“The world’s best scientists are telling us that today’s damage is just a glimpse of a future no responsible leader should be willing to accept, and that untenable future is coming sooner than predicted. These are real facts — not “alternative facts.” This report needs to be an action-forcing moment for renewed global focus, and it needs to get the United States back in the game at the federal level. Climate change is one of those generational challenges that simply cannot be solved without diplomacy — without international cooperation. This is a real time reminder that, if you’re going to solve a deadly challenge, an American President needs to be all in. Paris wouldn’t have been possible without global cooperation lead by the United States and buoyed by China, and a serious administration needs to get back to that kind of determined effort, otherwise our kids and grandkids are flat-out screwed. The upside is, do it right and you create millions upon millions of jobs in the low-carbon energy transformation. Don’t do it, and people die. Only for Donald Trump would that be a hard call.”

Former US Vice President Al Gore: 

“Today the world’s leading scientific experts collectively reinforced what Mother Nature has made clear – that we need to undergo an urgent and rapid transformation to a global clean energy economy. The Paris Agreement was monumental, but we must now go further, ratchet up commitments and develop solutions that meet the scale of the climate crisis. The report will encourage the development of new technologies, which is important. However, time is running out, so we must capitalize and build upon the solutions available today. Solving the climate crisis requires vision and leadership. Unfortunately, the Trump administration has become a rogue outlier in its shortsighted attempt to prop up the dirty fossil fuel industries of the past. The administration is in direct conflict with American businesses, states, cities, and citizens leading the transformation.”

California Governor Jerry Brown

“This IPCC report makes unmistakably clear that the world must radically change. It must decarbonize and establish a totally renewable basis for all economic activity. The big powers – the United States, China, India and the European Union – must show the way. We can do it but only if the deniers, the skeptics and the comfortable wake up to what the scientists are telling us.”


Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever, and Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, ITUC, in a letter to EU leaders:

“We anticipate the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on 1.5 degrees will reveal the significant gap between our current action and action required. Current projections chart a 3°C rise above pre-industrial temperatures, where we would see a significant drop in food production, an increase in urban heat waves, longer droughts, fiercer hurricanes, more devastating wildfires and communities inundated by rising sea-waters. We cannot do business under these conditions. It is clear the cost of inaction is greater than the cost of action. To stay within 1.5 degrees, developed economies like the EU, whose leadership is essential, must achieve a just transition to net-zero emissions by 2050 at the latest.”

Nigel Topping, CEO, We Mean Business coalition:

“The latest IPCC report tells us it is challenging – but entirely possible – to limit global warming to 1.5°C. The business community is already driving innovation and transformation across energy supply, fleets, buildings and agriculture but needs clear policies in these areas from governments within the next year to build a zero-carbon future faster.”

Jan Erik Saugestad, CEO, Storebrand Asset Management US$88 billion AuM:

“The IPCC report builds on the well-established body of evidence showing that the coal industry has no role in a climate-stable world. It’s our pressing duty to call on other investors to end meaningless engagement with coal-exposed companies, and instead sell their shares. We’re seeing coal plant developers like the giant Japanese company Marubeni pulling out of coal projects, as well as the global banks like Standard Chartered. Investors that move with vision and ambition will benefit from the best deals. We must focus laser-like on financing our way out of this global climate crisis and into clean energy prosperity.”

Barry Parkin, Chief Procurement and Sustainability Officer, Mars:

“The IPCC report released today highlights the urgency and scale of action required to effectively tackle the range of threats that our global community faces. The current rate of progress isn’t enough. At Mars, we trust the climate science and have used it to set ambitious targets to reduce our total greenhouse gas emissions. We will continue to work through coalitions like We Are Still In, RE100 and BICEP to encourage other businesses and industries to join us and embrace the change that is needed to align with the Paris Agreement.”

Pia Heidenmark Cook, Chief Sustainability Officer, IKEA Group:

“This latest IPCC report on climate change reinforces the urgent need for action from every part of society. The science and facts are clear and that is why IKEA has set an ambition to be climate positive by 2030, reducing more greenhouse gas emissions than what the IKEA value chain emits.

Setting stretching science-based targets is essential for achieving this. We will contribute by decarbonizing our energy use including electricity and heating, using zero-emissions deliveries, moving to a circular business model and enabling millions of customers and co-workers to take climate action in their everyday lives.

We firmly believe that together with other businesses joining the climate action movement, we can help to create a positive future and avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

Aron Cramer, CEO, BSR, a network of over 250 member companies dedicated to sustainability:

“Businesses around the world are rising to the ambition of the Paris Agreement. Almost 500 companies have adopted science-based targets, in a strong demonstration that the transition to low-carbon prosperity is accelerating. Businesses also know that meaningful climate action requires public policies that create certainty and market frameworks that create incentives for companies to move more rapidly. The arrival of the IPCC report shows just how urgent this progress is, and that there is more to be done. Our common challenge is to accelerate the pace of change, innovate low-carbon solutions, and design policies that will allow us to avoid the risk of runaway climate change and take advantage of the economic opportunities associated with achieving this goal.”

Global Political Leaders

Gro Harlem Brundtland, Acting Chair of The Elders, Former Prime Minister of Norway:

“This report is not a wake-up call, it is a ticking time bomb. Climate activists have been calling for decades for leaders to show responsibility and take urgent action, but we have barely scratched the surface of what needs to be done. Further failure would be an unconscionable betrayal of the planet and future generations.”

Mary Robinson, Former President of Ireland, Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Former UN Special Envoy on Climate Change:

“The IPCC report starkly sets out the challenges of securing a just transition to a 1.5 degree world, and the urgency with which this needs to be accomplished. This can only be done by a people-centred, rights-based approach with justice and solidarity at its heart. The time for talking is long past; leaders need to step up, serve their people and act immediately.”

Ban Ki-moon, Former UN Secretary-General:

“Climate change is a global challenge demanding global solutions. Equity, inclusivity and cooperation must underpin our collective response to meet the 1.5 degree target, with states acting in the same spirit that led to the Paris Agreement and the SDGs. Climate change respects no borders; our actions must transcend all frontiers.”

Laurence Tubiana, CEO, European Climate Foundation

This report is a crucial wake-up call. The IPCC experts have gone to the limits of their mandate to warn us of the impacts that threaten us if we exceed 1.5°C, but also to show us what transformations we must carry out, and at what speed. Yes, it is still possible to limit the warming to 1.5°C. We know what must be done, and we have the financial, technical and human resources to do it. It is now up to each of us to fulfill our responsibilities.

Graça Machel, Former First Education of Mozambique, Co-Founder of The Elders:

“Huge gains have been made in recent years to fight poverty, promote gender equality and empower indigenous communities. But these could all be wiped out if the international community does not take concerted, rapid action to limit temperature rises to 1.5 degrees. As ever, it is the poorest and most vulnerable who suffer the most. Their cries for justice must be answered – now.”

Lakhdar Brahimi, Former Foreign Minister of Algeria and UN diplomat:

“This report makes clear that the ecological catastrophe threatened by unmitigated climate change also spells disaster for global peace and security. Scarce resources and huge numbers of people displaced by rising sea waters, drought or desertification will exacerbate existing conflicts and produce new fault lines. For all our sakes, leaders must respond with urgency, unity and clarity of vision to preserve a peaceful planet.”

Ricardo Lagos, Former President of Chile, Former UN Special Envoy on Climate Change:

“The threats posed by climate change to planetary health cannot be understated. The time for stating the scale of the problem has passed, and we now need to move to urgent, radical action to keep temperature rises to 1.5 degrees. It cannot be left to climate scientists and activists alone – it is a battle that must be joined by all those with an interest in our future survival.”

Ernesto Zedillo, Former President of Mexico:

“If we allow temperatures to rise above 1.5 degrees then all the progress on prosperity, growth and development risks being wiped out. Our economic paradigm needs to shift to promote zero-carbon, climate-resilient policies. This means putting a price on carbon and investing in new, sustainable technologies, but also giving those most affected a voice in developing new growth models.”

Amjad Abdulla, Chief Negotiator for the Alliance of Small Island States, and IPCC Board member:

“The report shows that we only have the slimmest of opportunities remaining to avoid unthinkable damage to the climate system that supports life, as we know it. I have no doubt that historians will look back at these findings as one of the defining moments in the course of human affairs. I urge all civilized nations to take responsibility for it by dramatically increasing our efforts to cut the emissions responsible for the crisis and to do what is necessary to help vulnerable people respond to some of the devastating consequences we now know can no longer be avoided.”

Prof. Dr. Eckart Würzner, Mayor of Heidelberg, Germany:

“Many cities and regions in Europe have prepared and are in the process of delivering their 2050 climate and energy strategies. Their responses are based on the latest scientific thinking. In light of the latest news of the IPCC 1.5 Degree report, rapid change and widespread societal transformation are needed. The climate and energy policies shift is not an adjustment variable for the European Union project but on the contrary, it is the next step of its development. The transformation is a driving force that brings benefits across all sectors and for all levels of society through the creation of sustainable jobs and investment opportunities, the improvement of health and the quality of life and by addressing social inequalities. It is also an absolute need to prevent geopolitical threats and ensure global stability.”

Scientists and IPCC Authors

Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group I:

“One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes.”

Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II

“Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5°C or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems.”

Valerie Masson-Delmotte, Co-Chair of Working Group I:

“The good news is that some of the kinds of actions that would be needed to limit global warming to 1.5°C are already underway around the world, but they would need to accelerate.”

Kristie Ebi, lead author, chapter three and author, Summary for Policymakers:

“It’s clear that the benefits to the world of mitigating climate change are greater than the costs of mitigating climate change.”

Civil Society

Rachel Kyte, CEO for Sustainable Energy for All and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General:

“This report is devastating in detailing the size of the challenge before us to manage our economies to stay well below 2 degrees of warming. But we can do it. What’s important now is how we react to this report. We have known for some time the price of inaction is far higher than action. That price just got even higher.

“Many of the solutions we need are at hand. We have to use carbon and manage each molecule so it doesn’t escape into the atmosphere. We have to be driving forward hard the renewable energy revolution. The beauty of this revolution is that we can also make energy services inclusive – leaving no one behind.

“The report leaves no place to hide. The deep decarbonization of the economy is urgent, transcends all boundaries and political affiliations. This is our watch. It’s our responsibility.”

Nick Mabey, CEO E3G:

“The IPCC report shows keeping climate change below 1.5°C is necessary, feasible and beneficial. Leaders have a clear choice: will they decide to accelerate climate action and protect all their citizens from harm, or will they support the minority with interests in the old polluting economy. The first test to see what side politicians are on will be if rich countries commit to making their economies net zero emission before 2050.”

Peter Frumhoff, director of science and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and a former lead author of the IPCC:

“Many extreme weather events in the U.S. and across the globe have been intensifying after just a one degree Celsius increase in the global average temperature. As the latest IPCC report shows us, at 1.5 degrees of warming further climate impacts will be devastating and at 2 degrees they would be calamitous. Every fraction of a degree of warming we can avoid matters.”

Hina Jilani, Pakistani Human Rights Advocate:

“Climate change is a crisis for all humanity, but any effective response must acknowledge its disproportionate impact on women, girls and vulnerable minorities. Until their voices are heard in the global debates prompted by this stark report, policies will remain inadequate to the scale and complexity of the challenge. We can’t save the planet if half the planet’s population is ignored.”

Catherine Abreu, Executive Director, Climate Action Network Canada

“The science is clear and it has handed us a way forward: all of us must do all we can, all at the same time.”

Dr. Stephen Cornelius, WWF’s chief adviser on climate change:

“Every half-a-degree matters to people and nature – this is the reality of our warming world. The report is a call to action to accelerate the low-carbon transition needed across all sectors such as energy, transport, and food. Without rapid and deep cuts to global carbon emissions, we face more severe impacts to ecosystems, from coral reefs to Arctic sea ice, putting more vulnerable communities and wildlife at risk. We expected tough negotiations on this landmark report and we are happy that governments have delivered a good reflection of the underlying science. Current country pledges to cut emissions are insufficient to limit global warming to 1.5°C and you can’t negotiate with science.”

Tessa Khan, Co-Director, Climate Litigation Network:

“The IPCC report is clear: climate change is a grave risk to people around the world. Billions are already vulnerable to its impacts and that number will rise if emissions aren’t drastically reduced. By signing off this report, governments have recognized the scale of the threat. It’s also clear that governments have a responsibility to protect their citizens. If they fail to meet that responsibility through more ambitious climate policies, they can expect to be held accountable in court.”

The International Coalition for Sustainable Aviation (see full statement here):

“Some continue to downplay the extent of aviation’s climate impact – some 5% of global warming when accounting for both CO2 and climate effects at altitude. Likewise, some claim that the international portion of aviation’s emissions was “excluded” from the Paris Agreement and should be addressed by the UN International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). But the report makes clear that cutting emissions from this fast-growing sector is essential if we are to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement.”

Faith Leaders

Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, the Church of England’s environmental lead:
“For Christians, striving to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustaining and renewing the life of the earth is at the heart of what we believe. We have a narrow window now to act if we are to protect God’s creation for generations to come – as individuals, communities and as a global family.

“The Church of England is playing its part with around 2,000 churches now running on green energy tariffs, and as a voice in the ear of companies in the seven highest emitting sectors through its investment portfolio, leading shareholder resolutions to expedite the transition to a low carbon future.

“We can, and we must do more to pick up the pace of change. This is a holistic and positive change, with benefits for the way we live together. Building on the 10-year anniversary of the Climate Change Act, an ambitious UK government would seek to be a world leader by committing to a target of net zero emissions by 2050.”