EPA statement on the publication of the IPCC Synthesis Report of the Sixth Assessment Cycle

Date released: March 20, 2023

  • The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published the Synthesis Report as part of its 6th Assessment Cycle. This marks the completion of the IPCC’s landmark 6th Assessment process.
  • The Synthesis Report combines findings on climate science, mitigation and adaptation - to provide the full picture of climate change and its challenges. Its findings include:
    • Global warming has reached 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels and warming of 1.5oC may occur in 10-20 years unless effective global actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are taken. 
    • The ongoing build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is driving global warming with emissions continuing to increase; the main sources are fossil energy use, unsustainable land use and unsustainable patterns of consumption and production.
    • The impacts of global warming are evident around the world and the rate of many changes in the climate system has increased, including extremes such as heat waves.
    • The scale of risks increases with warming and particularly beyond 2oC. Higher risks are now expected at lower warming levels, including risks of large scale and irreversible impacts. 
    • These risks include displacement; loss of species; mortality risks related to increasing global exposure to heat and humidity; and loss of staple food production.
    • Major global changes will continue even after the global temperature increase is halted including sea-level rise and glacier loss. Limiting warming to 1.5oC would reduce both the rate and scale of these changes.
    • The decisions and actions we take over this decade will determine the scale of future climate change and have intergenerational consequences.

20th March 2023: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) welcomes the publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Synthesis Report as part of its 6th Assessment cycle. This report tells us how and why our climate is changing and the interlinked threat it poses for human health ecosystems and biodiversity. 

Laura Burke, EPA Director General, said:

“The IPCC findings are clear, stark and challenging. They reinforce the urgent need for action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while adapting to the current and future impacts of climate change.
This report which completes the IPCC 6th Assessment cycle will inform how world governments, including Ireland, will respond when they consider progress towards the Paris Agreement goals as part of the first Global Stocktake later in 2023. The EPA is also actively considering how these global messages can inform our work.”

Dr Frank McGovern, EPA said:

“This has been the longest and most challenging IPCC Assessment Cycle. It has also been the most productive, including three special reports and the assessment report. This Synthesis report is based on their findings and provides the essence of our current understanding of climate change and the responses that are needed if we are to safeguard the Earth’s climate.   Actions to protect our climate and reduce the risks of climate impacts are possible across all sectors. Delays increase these risks so now is the time to act.”

The EPA is leading the development of Ireland’s first Climate Change Assessment based on scientific research and systematic observations in Ireland. It will be published later this year. The report will build on and localise information from this IPCC Synthesis Report and the underlying reports provided during the 6th assessment cycle. 

Further information: Emily Williamson: EPA Media Relations Office, 053 9170770 (24 hours) or media@epa.ie 

Notes to the Editor

The EPA leads in the development and coordination of national climate change research in Ireland. It works with other agencies and research bodies in the development of key climate related observations, including observations of greenhouse gases, aerosols, river flows and freshwater levels.

The EPA is leading and coordinating the delivery of Ireland’s Climate Change Assessment (ICCA) under the Climate Action Plan (CAP). The ICCA will provide an assessment of outputs and findings from climate change research in Ireland and linked European and international research. The aim is to provide an authoritative assessment of our understanding of climate change based on scientific research and systematic observations in Ireland, linked to EU and global analysis; in order to provide summary information which can inform decision making on climate actions. The report will be comprised of four thematic volumes with an overarching synthesis report:

  • 1 Science: Ireland in a changing world
  • 2 Achieving climate neutrality by 2050
  • 3 Being prepared for Ireland’s future climate
  • 4 Realising the benefits of transition and transformation
  • Synthesis report

The EPA has supported work on the 6th Climate Modelling Inter-comparison Project (CMIP-6) used throughout this IPCC report through the work of Dr Paul Nolan in ICHEC.

The EPA hosts the Climate Ireland information portal which provides interactive access to climate information for Ireland.

Other information:

About the IPCC

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to provide political leaders with periodic scientific assessments concerning climate change, its implications and risks, as well as to put forward adaptation and mitigation strategies. In the same year the UN General Assembly endorsed the action by the WMO and UNEP in jointly establishing the IPCC. It has 195 member states.

Thousands of people from all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC. For the assessment reports, experts volunteer their time as IPCC authors to assess the thousands of scientific papers published each year to provide a comprehensive summary of what is known about the drivers of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and how adaptation and mitigation can reduce those risks.

The IPCC has three working groups: Working Group I, dealing with the physical science basis of climate change; Working Group II, dealing with impacts, adaptation and vulnerability; and Working Group III, dealing with the mitigation of climate change. It also has a Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories that develops methodologies for estimating emissions and removals of greenhouse gases.

IPCC assessments provide governments, at all levels, with scientific information that they can use to develop climate policies. IPCC assessments are a key input into the international negotiations to tackle climate change. IPCC reports are drafted and reviewed in several stages, thus guaranteeing objectivity and transparency.

About the Sixth Assessment Cycle

Comprehensive scientific assessment reports are published every 6 to 7 years; the latest, the Fifth Assessment Report, was completed in 2014 and provided the main scientific input to the Paris Agreement.

At its 41st Session in February 2015, the IPCC decided to produce a Sixth Assessment Report (AR6). At its 42nd Session in October 2015 it elected a new Bureau that would oversee the work on this report and Special Reports to be produced in the assessment cycle. At its 43rd Session in April 2016, it decided to produce three Special Reports, a Methodology Report and AR6.

The Working Group I contribution to the Sixth Assessment Report Climate Change 2021: the Physical Science Basis was released on 9 August 2021. The Working Group II contribution, Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, was released on 28 February 2022. The Working Group III contribution, Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change, was released on 4 April 2022.

The IPCC is currently working on the final instalment of the Sixth Assessment Report, the Synthesis Report, which will integrate the findings of the three Working Group assessments as well as the three Special Reports released in 2018 and 2019.

Global Warming of 1.5°C, an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty was launched in October 2018.

Climate Change and Land, an IPCC special report on climate change, desertification, land degradation, sustainable land management, food security, and greenhouse gas fluxes in terrestrial ecosystems was launched in August 2019, and the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate was released in September 2019.

In May 2019 the IPCC released the 2019 Refinement to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories, an update to the methodology used by governments to estimate their greenhouse gas emissions and removals.

For more information please visit www.ipcc.ch.

The website includes outreach materials including videos about the IPCC and video recordings from outreach events conducted as webinars or live-streamed events.

Most videos published by the IPCC can be found on the IPCC YouTube channel.