Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

A wildfire burns in a forest over the village of Gouves, on the island of Evia, Greece, on Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021. (Konstantinos Tsakalidis/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Global warming is happening so fast that scientists now say we'll cross a crucial temperature threshold as early as 2030 — up to a decade sooner than previously thought — according to a sweeping new UN-sponsored review of climate science published Monday.

The big picture: Atmospheric CO2 concentrations were higher in 2019 than at any time in at least 2 million years, and the past 50 years saw the fastest temperature increases in at least 2,000 years, according to the new assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

What they're saying: The report says that the connection between human emissions of greenhouse gases and global warming is “unequivocal.”

  • It's the “strongest statement the IPCC has ever made,” Ko Barrett, the panel's vice chair and senior advisor on climate to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told reporters.

Why it matters: Warming is affecting every area of the globe, making the world a more volatile place, and the report connects the dots between extreme events and long-term human causes.

  • Weather and climate events are becoming more common and severe, it says, and rising sea levels are flooding coastal areas with regularity.
  • It shows we’re running out of time to meet the targets of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Details: The IPCC looked at how long it will take the world to reach a temperature warming target of 1.5°C (2.7°F) compared to preindustrial levels and determined that could happen between 2030 and 2035.

  • The 20-year period from now through 2040 will be the first to meet or beat that target, the panel found.
  • Even under the lowest pathway of future greenhouse gas emissions, the 1.5-degree threshold would be exceeded for a period of time.

Only rapid, steep and sustained greenhouse gas emissions cuts, down to net zero and eventually net negative values, could avoid exceeding 1.5 or 2°C (3.6°F) of warming over the longer-term, the report states. The world has already warmed by 1.1°C (2°F) relative to the 1850-1900 average.

  • The report also notes that many of the effects of climate change through 2050 are already locked in by the emissions to date, but there is still time to greatly reduce climate impacts later this century.

Yes, but: The world is nowhere near making the emissions cuts in line with the Paris Agreement targets, instead tracking toward at least 3°C (5.4°F) of warming, based on the latest emissions reduction pledges.

Between the lines: The peer-reviewed report, conducted by 234 authors from 66 countries who examined more than 14,000 studies, arrives at a hinge point in the global fight against climate change.

  • Leaders in the U.S. and European Union are seeking to enact strict new measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions and keep the 1.5-degree goal alive, with a pivotal summit slated for November in Glasgow. But consensus on emissions cuts among all of the wealthiest nations remains elusive.
  • It also comes amid an outbreak of extreme weather events that have killed hundreds in the Pacific Northwest in a scorching heat wave, with devastating wildfires striking the U.S., Canada, Russia and the Mediterranean region this summer.
  • The report touches on tipping points in the climate system, such as the shutdown of the Gulf Stream and collapse of part of the Antarctic Ice Sheet, categorizing them as low-risk but high-impact events.
Data: IPCC; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Flashback: Compared with its first report in 1990, the IPCC’s new climate assessment reflects global warming's transition from a far-off, future issue to a present-day crisis.

  • The internationally agreed threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius is perilously close,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a statement. “We must act decisively now to keep 1.5 alive.” He called for the report to “sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet.”
  • "The actions we take over the coming years are what will determine if we can get on the right path," Jane Lubchenco, the top climate official in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, told Axios. "So every action matters, every year matters, every fraction of a degree matters."

By the numbers: The report projects that global warming at the end of the century will range between about 1.3 to 5.7°C (2.34 to 10.26°F), relative to 1850-1900 levels, depending on emissions.

  • The "most likely" range of additional warming by 2100 spans from 1.4°C to 4.4.°C (2.5 to 7.9°F).
  • Regional temperature changes, however, will far exceed global averages, especially in the Arctic.
  • Sea levels are projected to increase under the intermediate to high emissions pathways by between at least a foot and a half to more than three and a half feet by the end of the century.
  • A rise of 7 feet by the year 2100, or even 16 feet by 2150, “cannot be ruled out,” due to uncertainties about potential tipping points involving Antarctic ice melt.
  • The report warns of the occurrence of “compound events,” in which various extremes, such as heat waves and drought, overlap and affect society in unprecedented ways.
  • It also makes clear how starkly different the current climate already is from that in which modern human civilization first thrived.

What we're watching: The report will heavily influence diplomatic efforts to secure new emissions reduction commitments from major emitters at Glasgow. It's also likely to further galvanize climate activists. A 2018 IPCC report helped spark the global youth-led climate movement.

Go deeper: Axios Today: Scientists' strongest stance yet on climate

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Sep 20, 2021 - Energy & Environment

The breadth and limits of corporate carbon moves

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

This week will showcase how more big companies are taking steps to cut emissions — and why corporate pledges only go so far.

The big picture: It's Climate Week. That's the annual New York City event that brings together businesses, governments and activists for speeches, symposiums and pledges. The event typically serves as a venue for corporations to announce their latest efforts, and that's already starting.

Sep 20, 2021 - World

Sifting for clues within a climate whirlwind

UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

High-level talks in New York City and Washington this week will provide more signals about what might get done — or not — at the critical United Nations climate summit this fall.

Driving the news: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres will convene a closed-door gathering of leaders Monday morning on the sidelines of the U.S. General Assembly.

First look: Real estate firms invest $140 million in climate tech

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Large real estate companies are putting $140 million into a climate tech fund that aims to help decarbonize the sector, according to an announcement Monday morning from the venture firm Fifth Wall.

Why it matters: The funding round, which includes some of the largest players in the industry, signals growing momentum toward backing new technologies needed to slash carbon emissions to net-zero by midcentury and achieve negative emissions thereafter.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!