Supporting the United Nations’ 6th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report

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The release of the UN’s latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report has confirmed everyone’s worst fears. Not only is climate change real, but it is also the direct result of human activity. It is predicting the earth will have warmed by 1.5 degrees since 1910 in the next decade, and looking ahead, Australia, which is already bearing the brunt of extreme weather events, will be amongst the hardest-hit nations in the world.

The IPCC report is described as a ‘reality check’ for the global community. It is much more than that. The report is now warning of a ‘code red for humanity’. ‘Code red’ signals the most dire possible warning of likely devastation ahead.

Based on the worrying findings of the IPCC report, we join a growing number of governments and organisations in Australia and around the world, calling for urgent action so that increases in greenhouse gas emissions peak immediately and start to decline. The next 5-10 years are a crucial window for this to occur, and actions in this time period will affect outcomes over the next few decades and centuries. The IPCC report flags that without urgent action much of the current and growing devastation on nature and humankind will be irreversible for many hundreds to thousands of years. Every year that passes without a clear climate change strategy is an opportunity lost and will only result in greater loss of life, property and amenity.

The Academy calls on the Australian Government to lift its ambition in advance of the COP26 meeting in Glasgow, outlining a strong plan for 2030.

To date, governments have mainly looked to the sciences to help address the global warming crisis. While the sciences are essential for understanding and responding to climate change, there is also a big role for the humanities to play.

We have already seen the valuable contribution the humanities disciplines can make to large-scale, environmental problems. Last year, Australia tapped into our nation’s best brainpower when responding to the devastating bushfires that ravaged so much of our nation, and it is humanities researchers who are analysing the cultural forces driving climate change.

The Australian Academy of the Humanities calls for stronger collaboration across all disciplines in tackling this urgent crisis. Collectively, we must harness whatever resources are at our disposal, including the imaginative power of the humanities and arts, to build a sustainable future for generations to come.

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Acknowledgement of Country

The Australian Academy of the Humanities recognises Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the traditional owners and custodians of this land, and their continuous connection to country, community and culture.