Statement by the President’s Science Advisor and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Dr. Eric Lander on IPCC Working Group I Report
Today’s report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) confirms with rigorous science what we’re seeing with our own eyes — that climate change is intensifying faster than we thought. We’ve seen wildfires in the American West scorching so many trees, farms, and homes that towns have been reduced to ash and skies turned red. Deep freezes in the Deep South last winter so cold that the power grid failed, causing food, water, and heat shortages. Thousand-year floods putting European cities under 10 feet of water. Unrelenting heat waves, persistent severe droughts, and unyielding storms battering communities from Central and South America to sub-Saharan Africa to southeast Asia. These events are harbingers of what will happen more broadly if we don’t act.
The scientific reality of climate change is inescapable. The report shows sobering facts: global temperatures have risen nearly 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels and threaten to hit levels of 1.5-2.0°C, which is widely agreed to have severe consequences. Late-summer Arctic sea ice appears to be the lowest it’s been in the last 1,000 years. Sea level rise has accelerated, and is now happening faster than we’ve seen in the last 3,000 years. The ocean warmed faster over the last century than it has in the last 11,000 years. And, the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide has reached its highest level in 2 million years.
As the pace of climate change accelerates, so too must our urgency to act. We have to work together now to build a net-zero carbon future.
More than ever before, science and technology are making that possible: proving that while the climate crisis is great, so too is our capacity to solve it. The tight coupling between ongoing breakthroughs from scientific innovation and accelerating cost reductions through deployment — in wind and solar power, battery storage, and next-generation renewable energy sources, for example — can allow America to lead the way to a prosperous, net-zero carbon economy by 2050. Our generation’s responsibility is to make sure that happens