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What is the IPCC AR6 Synthesis Report and why does it matter?

The Synthesis Report of the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (IPCC AR6 synthesis report) is the final report of the IPCC's Sixth Assessment cycle, published on 20 March 2023.

The AR6 Synthesis Report is a comprehensive summary of findings which were released over the course of the AR6 cycle. The synthesis report is intended to provide policymakers, stakeholders, and the general public with a comprehensive assessment of the state of scientific knowledge on climate change.

While there is no new scientific information in the synthesis report, it provides a useful ‘at a glance’ summary of the IPCC’s findings, compressing thousands of pages into a more accessible guide.

Preparations for the next assessment cycle – beginning in July this year - are already underway.

Next report could be UN’s ‘climate eulogy’

The synthesis report is the last IPCC report to be published this decade – the decade which has been described as ‘critical’ by the IPCC, given the body’s warning that global emissions must be halved by 2030 (from 2010 levels) to be able to restrict global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.

With global emissions continuing to climb, there is a very real possibility that the next IPCC report could be published in a world where limiting global warming to 1.5°C is no longer possible and where the worst effects of climate change on the planet and human life are far more likely.

The 2015 Paris Agreement – a legally binding international treaty – set the goal of limiting the global average temperature to ‘well below 2°C’ and to pursue efforts to ‘limit the increase to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels'.

However, studies published earlier this year by Stanford University and Colorado State University found that, if current trends continue, 1.5°C of warming will likely be passed in the next decade and a near 70 per cent chance that 2°C will be crossed between 2044 and 2065.

Data from Climate Action Tracker suggests that, even with current policies to restrict global warming in place, the world is still on track for about 2.7°C of warming.

The realities of life above 2°C of warming

According to peer-reviewed data and studies compiled by the Carbon Brief, a 2°C world would mean sea levels would rise by 56cm by 2100, subjecting many population centres to substantial flooding, erosion and storm surges. Eight of the world’s ten largest cities are coastal.

The total population facing at least one severe heatwave every five years would increase to 37 per cent, while the frequency of warm extremes over land would increase by 343 per cent.

The number of people exposed to water scarcity would increase to 388 million, while those exposed to severe drought would increase to 194.5 million. However, changes to rainfall patterns under an increase in global temperatures of 2°C would mean 36 Per cent of land being exposed to extreme rains.

The ocean – already absorbing the majority of excess heat trapped in the atmosphere by greenhouse gases – will experience 23 times more marine heat waves per year, devastating coral reefs, marine flora and fauna.

Habitat loss for all species would double or even triple if temperature increases went from 1.5°C to 2°C.

‘Fossil fuels are driving us towards an unliveable world’

Since 1988, when the IPCC was first formed, there have been six reports which have become more comprehensive, complex and alarming in their findings. However, despite the IPCC’s findings, global emissions have continued to climb, driven primarily by the continued burning of fossil fuels.

Maggie Wood, Programs Director at the Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) - which has campaigned against the growth of the fossil fuel industry in Western Australia - said:

“WA is home to one of the fastest growing fossil fuel industries in the world, thanks in no small part to the gas export business which continues to get sizable financial and regulatory support from government.

“Tackling rising emissions and temperatures is a global issue, but WA must get its own house in order and stop being part of the problem. Otherwise we’re in no position to be taken seriously as a leader in this space.

“The use of fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas are driving us ever closer to an unliveable world. The IPCC has issued several, high-profile and alarming warnings while floods, droughts and bushfires continue to become more common and more extreme.

“We need to ask ourselves how many more warnings we are willing ignore and at what cost.”



MEDIA INFORMATION: The Conservation Council of WA (CCWA) is the state’s foremost non-profit, non-government conservation organisation representing nearly 100 environmental organisations across Western Australia. 

For more information, visit:

CONTACT: For any enquiries relating to this release, please contact Robert Davies

08 9420 7291 / 0412 272 570 or by email, [email protected] 

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