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Commentary Article April 22nd, 2022
Delivery • Energy • Innovation • Justice • Technology • International Development

What the latest IPCC report means for people and communities

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What does the latest #IPCCreport mean for people and communities? 🧑🏻‍🤝‍🧑🏽 This #EarthDay, @chandrima_lp discusses why mitigation efforts should be designed with communities & linked to sustainable development objectives

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The #IPCCreport highlights 'the need to address the underlying drivers of vulnerability and high emissions TOGETHER', linking with @CPI_foundation's belief that communities should be at the ❤️ of shaping a place-based transition to net-zero

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"If we are to effectively respond to climate change, it is imperative that in the ways that we can, we all play our part in building just and sustainable places and communities." @chandrima_lp from @CPI_foundation

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It’s been just over two weeks since the release of the third and final installment of the Sixth Assessment Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The report focuses on climate mitigation and discusses:

  1. The progress made in limiting global emissions 

  2. Concrete mitigation actions for systems and sectors that also prioritise sustainable development

The report places increased emphasis on sustainable development, equity, just transitions and has a separate chapter dedicated to the social considerations of climate mitigation. This is of particular significance as these have been conspicuously absent or limited in previous reports.

The report highlights ‘the need to address the underlying drivers of vulnerability and high emissions together’ and makes tangible recommendations on how to do this. The recommendations cover both governmental strategies and policies, but also what can be done at an individual level. It also advocates for ‘enabling diverse communities, sectors, stakeholders, regions and cultures to participate in just, equitable and inclusive processes that improve the health and well-being of people and the planet’.

This resonates deeply with us at CPI, as we firmly believe that individuals and communities should be at the heart of shaping a place-based transition to net-zero. And so today, on Earth Day, here’s a brief summary of what the report signifies for people and communities.

Mitigation efforts should be designed with communities and linked to sustainable development objectives

The report discusses mitigation strategies across energy, industry, buildings, cities, transport, and food systems sectors. When these are co-designed with communities and well implemented, they can generate important co-benefits for sustainable development. For example, conserving natural ecosystems can support local livelihoods, strengthen food and water security, and protect and enrich biodiversity. However, when designed without inclusive community and public engagement and implemented poorly, these actions can disrupt local economies, exacerbate existing inequity, displace communities or replace old forms of injustice with new ones.

To counter this, the report recommends inclusive, transparent, participatory decision-making processes that bolster public trust and government legitimacy. This has the added benefit of deepening public engagement and support on transformative climate action. We’ve written some more about how local governments can set up inclusive engagement processes for people and communities here.

Shifts in lifestyle and behaviour have a significant role to play in reducing emissions

The primary focus of mitigation efforts so far has been on the supply-side and shifting energy supply to lower-carbon energy resources, including renewables. Increasingly, as evidenced by a first-of-its-kind full chapter in the report on ‘demand, services and social aspects of mitigation’, there is growing emphasis on what also needs to be done to reduce demand. 

The chapter puts people and their wellbeing at the heart of mitigation efforts and explores what motivates people to cut emissions. This involves building a deeper understanding of the ways in which people live, work, and play. It also means supporting shifts to lifestyle and behaviour that hold high co-benefits in terms of health, wellbeing, and savings.

The report identifies that shifting consumption patterns across groups that can afford it, can slash greenhouse gas emissions by 40-70% by 2050 when compared to current climate policies. When it comes to transportation, this means encouraging more active travel through walking and cycling, as well as avoiding long-haul flights. Additionally, shifting to sustainable healthy diets, reusing and recycling materials, cutting food waste and using energy more efficiently in buildings are some of the most effective demand-side mitigation strategies.

However, as our People’s Panel session identified, there is also a need for policy and infrastructure to support these large-scale shifts in people’s lifestyles and behaviour, in order to rapidly reduce emissions. Mitigation strategies when designed through this lens and with deep public engagement can generate critical and equitable co-benefits that tackle multiple priorities alongside climate change. 

Where do we go from here?

The world needs to peak emissions before 2025, nearly halve emissions by 2030, and reach net-zero emissions around mid-century, while ensuring a just and equitable transition.

As this latest IPCC report makes clear, limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5C is still possible, but only if we act immediately. The world needs to peak emissions before 2025, nearly halve emissions by 2030, and reach net-zero emissions around mid-century, while ensuring a just and equitable transition.

Achieving this is a whole-of-society challenge that requires coordination and collaboration across groups, places and sectoral silos. In our lives, we take on various roles with varying degrees of agency and influence - as citizens, employees, business-owners, consumers, parents, students, and peers. If we are to effectively respond to climate change, it is imperative that in the ways that we can, we all play our part in building just and sustainable places and communities.

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Written by:

Chandrima Padmanabhan Programme Manager, Europe
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