UN climate science report set to highlight how slow response to climate crisis risks catastrophic consequences

Posted on March, 09 2023

WWF climate scientists hope landmark IPCC report will help push governments to take immediate action and harness the benefits of phasing-out fossil fuels, slashing emissions and restoring nature
Nature is a non-negotiable part of the solution to the climate crisis. IPCC science shows it has absorbed around 54% of human-related carbon dioxide emissions over the past decade

“The window to limit warming to 1.5ºC is rapidly closing” warns WWF lead climate scientist Stephanie Roe
Interlaken, Switzerland (9 March 2023): On Monday 13 March, the approval session begins for the new climate science report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The report will bring together current scientific research, with leading scientists and governments set to agree on a summary that demonstrates the devastating reality and risks posed by the climate crisis, the many solutions available and the ways in which the world must respond.

The IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) Synthesis Report summary for policymakers will be discussed line-by-line by governments at the week-long approval session in Switzerland. Once approved, the report Climate Change 2023: Synthesis Report will be released on Monday, 20 March 2023. 

Dr Stephanie Roe, WWF Global Climate and Energy Lead Scientist and Lead Author on IPCC Working Group III report on mitigation, said: “Distilling more than 10,000 pages of climate science from the three Working Group and three Special Reports, the IPCC Synthesis Report will present the most integrated and accessible assessment of climate change drivers, impacts, and mitigation and adaptation solutions in a decade. 

“The evidence shows we are not yet doing enough to respond to this crisis. With current emissions still at their highest level in human history, we are way off course, and the window to limit warming to 1.5ºC is rapidly closing. The science also clearly shows that we have the solutions within our grasp. In some cases we have started to implement these solutions, with various countries already achieving sustained emissions reductions, but action is not yet at the scale or speed we need. The sooner and more decisively we act, the sooner people and nature can reap the benefits of a cleaner, safer and more stable future.”

IPCC reports are influential as they are used by policymakers and governments to inform their actions, shape UN climate change negotiations, and affect public opinion.

Findings from previous IPCC Working Group reports from this assessment cycle, that will be considered for inclusion in this Synthesis Report, warned that our climate was in ‘code red’ with CO2 concentration at its highest level in two million years and sea level rise at its fastest rate in 3000 years. The Working Group reports also showed that the current 1.1°C of warming has already caused dangerous disruption to nature and human wellbeing across the world, with many climate impacts worse than predicted in the last IPCC synthesis report in 2014.

The report is also set to highlight an alarming ambition gap. Working Group III findings revealed that despite some positive policy initiatives, greenhouse gas emissions continued to climb to the highest levels in human history and that we are way off track to limit warming to below catastrophic levels. Current policy and financial pledges to 2030 make it impossible to limit warming to 1.5°C.

While the UN report will not prescribe the exact policy pathway countries should take to limit warming, WWF hopes it will enhance the scientific basis for climate action and help spur governments to implement immediate measures to phase out fossil fuels, slash emissions across all sectors and to restore nature - climate’s secret ally. 

Dr Stephen Cornelius, WWF Global Deputy Lead for Climate and Energy, said: “Leaders must heed the science and act immediately with the pace and scale necessary to decarbonise our economies in time. The clock is ticking and we are running out of time, and no countries are yet on track for a 1.5ºC pathway. An accelerated phase-out of fossil fuels is needed to limit global warming to below 1.5oC and avoid the worst climate change risks. 

“Nature is our secret ally in the fight against climate change. Natural systems have absorbed 54% of human-related carbon dioxide emissions over the past decade and have slowed global warming and helped protect humanity from much more severe climate change risks. We can’t hope to limit warming to 1.5°C, adapt to climate change and save lives and livelihoods, unless we also act urgently to safeguard and restore nature. Nature is a non-negotiable part of the solution to the climate crisis.


WWF spokespeople are available for interview 

Robin Harvey, Media Relations Manager, WWF International  rharvey@wwfint.org / news@wwfint.org 



  • The IPCC is the UN body for assessing the science related to climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization 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. 

  • IPCC Assessment Reports are periodic assessments about the latest knowledge on climate change, its causes, potential impacts and response options. The Sixth Assessment Report takes into consideration the findings from the latest three working group reports released in 2021 and 2022, along with three earlier special reports. More information on the IPCC is available here: https://www.ipcc.ch/

  •  Six key findings from IPCC AR6 Working Group reports:
    Global emissions between 2010 and 2019 were higher than any previous decade in human history. Source: IPCC WG3 
    Nature has absorbed 54% of human-related carbon dioxide emissions over the past 10 years. 31% is removed by terrestrial ecosystems, including in plants, animals and soils, and the other 23% is taken up by the ocean. Source: IPCC WG2
    Approximately 3.3 to 3.6 billion people live in contexts that are highly vulnerable to climate change. Source: IPCC WG2 
    The food system accounts for about a third (23-42%) of global greenhouse gas emissions. Source: IPCC WG3 
    We have solutions in every sector to halve emissions by 2030 in line with a 1.5°C pathway. Source: IPCC WG3 
    Between 2010 and 2019, the cost of solar energy and lithium-ion batteries (used for energy storage) decreased by a massive 85%, while wind energy costs dropped by 55%. Source: IPCC WG3 

  • The WWF report Our Climate’s Secret Ally: Uncovering the story of nature in the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report draws upon the IPCC’s work to highlight the interlinked emergencies of human-induced climate change and biodiversity loss  and is available to download here. Infographics available on request.  

  • Other WWF reports related to the IPCC AR6 reporting cycle include: Climate, Nature and our 1.5°C Future - download here and Feeling the Heat: The fate of nature beyond 1.5°C of global warming - download here

WWF is an independent conservation organization, with over 30 million supporters and a global network active in over 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the Earth's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature, by conserving the world's biological diversity, ensuring that the use of renewable natural resources is sustainable, and promoting the reduction of pollution and wasteful consumption. Visit www.panda.org/news for the latest news and media resources and follow us on Twitter @WWF_media.
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