A Reflection on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report
Last week the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published their Sixth Assessment Report. I sat down with coffee on Monday morning to start reading , looking at the data and the articles on the report when a typhoon of sadness hit me, making it hard to breathe. It’s one thing to know that things are not moving in the right direction, but this report had graphs and cutting edge climate science begging us all to move quicker.
As one of my seminary teachers often said, “Feel your feelings.” Hold your sadness, anger, frustration, despair to move through it into climate action.
The report gives us five potential futures based on greenhouse gas emissions and other human factors. However, we have reached the point where our sea levels will continue to rise and our glaciers will keep melting. That is something to pause and mourn. Our world is playing a new “choose your own adventure” with the stakes at life or death.
As a person of faith and conscience, I am going to hold my hope by working towards accomplishing the first future. The first future is where we have cut global CO2 emissions to net zero by 2050. It meets the Paris Agreement’s goal and should keep warming at around 1.5 degrees Celsius. To make that goal, it’s not just about emissions.
It’s about the systemic issues that lead to CO2 emissions such as capitalism, population, how we feed each other, inequality, equity, making sure the areas where the climate crisis will impact quality of life are resourced for those who live there, and more. That’s where I believe people of faith and conscience are uniquely positioned to do the work. We need to make smart policy on all levels of government, regulate emitters, create deep systemic change, and stop practicing greenwashing with the corporations who are the biggest emitters.
In Iowa, we know that we are making a direct impact:
- A newly released study reported that 57.6% of all electricity in Iowa comes from renewable sources. Iowa is the only state to have over ½ renewable energy. Iowa is leading the country in clean energy and our leadership is needed to reach zero emissions by 2050.
- Our Iowa farmers are innovating on their land through regenerative agriculture. They are keeping carbon in our soils by practicing no till and using cover crops. We see through our Faith Farms & Climate program that farmers are stepping up and more are joining the movement.
- College students in our state are rising to the occasion to take climate action through sustainability practices and advocating for policies on the climate crisis. For the past three summers, our Called to Climate Action student leaders have given us hope for the future through integrating their faith and climate action.
There is hope, and I understand if you are still at your “feel your feelings” stage. We often forget that the climate crisis has many consequences and reactions, and some are very personal. The world is so broken that it’s overwhelming to even think about where to start to fix it. “Feel your feelings” while we hold your hope at Iowa IPL. We are here when you are ready to take climate action.