The IPCC Working Group II report. The latest instalment of the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was released on February 28, focused on climate impacts, risks and adaptation. A Summary for Policymakers was also published, along with the slides presented at the launch and some FAQs. The report’s conclusion is stark: ‘Any further delay in global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all’. UN Secretary-General António Guterres described the report as ‘an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership’. 

  • The IPCC. The IPCC brings together almost all the world’s climate scientists, and its reports are approved by 195 national governments, giving it a unique global political authority. IPCC Working Group I focuses on the physical effects of climate change (its latest report was released last year: see our Digest ‘Code Red for Humanity’ for analysis). Working Group II (this report) details the social, political and economic factors that determine who will be exposed to its effects (impacts, adaptation and vulnerability). Working Group III (the latest report of which will be released later this year) details climate mitigation measures. 
  • The Working Group II report. More than 3000 pages long, the report includes 7 chapters on the principal types of climate impact (such as oceans, food, cities and health), 7 chapters on the likely impacts in each of the world’s continents, 7 dealing with different kinds of habitat and landscape areas (such as deserts, polar regions and ‘biodiversity hotspots’) and 3 synthesis chapters on the integration of adaptation and mitigation measures. Read Carbon Brief’s in depth Q&A on the report and its contents. See here for a useful summary thread by climate writer Leo Barasi. 

Key findings. The report’s key findings (‘headline statements’) include: 

  • Climate change has already caused ‘substantial damages and increasingly irreversible losses, in terrestrial, freshwater and coastal and open ocean marine ecosystems’.
  • Approximately 3.3 to 3.6 billion people already ‘live in contexts that are highly vulnerable to climate change’.
  • Approximately 50-75% of the global population could be exposed to periods of ‘life-threatening climatic conditions’ due to extreme heat and humidity by 2100.
  • Where climate change impacts intersect with areas of high vulnerability, it is ‘contributing to humanitarian crises’ and ‘increasingly driving displacement in all regions, with small island states disproportionately affected’.
  • Increasing weather and climate extreme events ‘have exposed millions of people to acute food insecurity and reduced water security’, with the most significant impacts seen in parts of Africa, Asia, Central and South America, small islands and the Arctic.
  • Climate change ‘will increasingly put pressure on food production and access, especially in vulnerable regions, undermining food security and nutrition’.
  • Climate change and extreme weather events ‘will significantly increase ill health and premature deaths from the near- to long-term’.
  • It is likely that the proportion of all terrestrial and freshwater species ‘at very high risk of extinction’ will reach 9% (maximum 14%) at a global average temperature rise of 1.5C. This rises to 10% (18%) at 2C and 12% (29%) at 3C.

Climate justice. Chapter 8 of the report deals with the societal consequences of climate change, assessing impacts through the lens of poverty, livelihoods and vulnerability. Vulnerability is defined by the report as ‘the propensity or predisposition to be adversely affected’, and encompasses a variety of concepts and elements, including ‘sensitivity or susceptibility to harm and lack of capacity to cope and adapt’ to climate-related hazards. As Politico noted in its coverage, there is a much stronger focus on climate justice in the report than in previous ones. It emphasises the unequal impact of climate change, with those on low incomes, both in the world as a whole, and in individual countries, being much more vulnerable than others. Environmentalist Ayisha Siddiqa noted that this is the first time that the IPCC has acknowledged ‘historical and ongoing patterns of inequity such as colonialism’ in the vulnerability of people in the global South. 

  • Food supply. The WGII report notes that the climate crisis poses an acute threat to global food supply, with severe consequences for global hunger and security. Climate campaigner Ben See analyses the report’s evidence. 
  • Climate resilient development. The report emphasises the need for ‘climate resilient development’, which it defines as a ‘solutions framework’ that ‘combines strategies to adapt to climate change with actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to support sustainable development for everyone’. The International Institute for Environment and Development explains the concept further

Climate politics. The WGII report highlights the need both for stronger and faster action to reduce emissions and for greater resources and effort to be put into adaptation, particularly in the most vulnerable countries. Damian Carrington analysed the political implications of the report in the Guardian: ‘This climate crisis report asks: what is at stake? In short, everything.’

  • Lifestyle changes. An academic research study has found that if people in wealthy countries made six key changes to their consumption patterns, emissions could be dramatically reduced. The research was published alongside a new campaign, ‘The Jump’, which asks people to sign up to six lifestyle pledges that it claims are ‘clear, constructive, impactful, doable’. They include flying no more than once every three years and buying no more than three new items of clothing per year. 
Weekly Updates

Energy and inflation

Reducing dependence on Russian gas and oil. The UK has announced a phasing out of Russian oil imports by the end of 2022, and will investigate doing the same for gas. European Union countries are also attempting to cut their imports from Russia without inflicting major damage on their economies and people. The US has banned Russian oil and gas imports with immediate effect.

  • Ten-point plan. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has put forward a ’10-point plan’ for reducing Europe’s reliance on Russian supply of fossil fuels. Their recommendations include the acceleration of new wind and solar projects, the mass replacement of gas boilers with heat pumps and the introduction of minimum gas storage requirements. 
  • Clean energy boom? The European Climate Foundation’s Joss Garman argues that the Ukraine crisis has highlighted the need for a ‘massive clean energy boom’. In the FT Leslie Hook and Neil Hume asked if the Ukraine war would on the contrary derail the green energy transition. They note that the first beneficiary of plans to reduce dependence could be coal. Germany is reported to be planning a major expansion of wind and solar power.
  • The debate on the right. A number of Conservative MPs and peers have urged the Prime Minister to end the moratorium on fracking for shale gas, arguing that a ‘national mission’ would reduce reliance on imports. Nigel Farage has called for a referendum on the government’s net zero policies as part of a new ‘Britain Means Business’ initiative, arguing that green policies should be scrapped in the face of rising energy bills. Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, argued in the same issue of the Daily Mail that the UK must on the contrary ‘accelerate our transition away from expensive gas’ towards renewables. He vigorously opposed the proposal to revive fracking. Conservative MP and member of the Conservative Environment Network, Felicity Buchan, noted that achieving net zero is vital for improving the UK’s energy security. However Boris Johnson called for a ‘free pass’ for the West on climate policy. He said that while the 2050 net zero target should be kept, short-term flexibility was required to allow for the increased domestic production of gas and oil. 
  • North Sea oil and gas. The climate campaign Uplift issued a briefing note on why greater oil and gas production in the North Sea would not help the UK’s energy security.

More help for energy bills? The i’s Paul Waugh reported that the Treasury is considering new support for households as soaring global oil and gas prices add to the cost of living crisis. The Energy Bill Rebate scheme announced by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak last month is expected to be revised in his Spring Statement on March 23.

  • Moving green levies onto general taxation?  Waugh also noted that moving “green levies” (which add ~£150 per year onto household bills) into general taxation (at a cost to the Treasury of £7bn a year) has support in No 10, BEIS and could unite Net Zero sceptics and supporters alike. Previous analysis from IPPR’s comprehensive plan to decarbonise housing showed that this could immediately reduce bills for 70% of households and incentivise the uptake of low carbon heating systems (e.g. heat pumps).
  • Not a windfall tax. Waugh suggests that Sunak is ‘very opposed’ to a windfall tax on the oil and gas sector due to concerns about ‘the impact on energy exploration, plus the hit to pension funds which have shares in the British energy firms’. NEB’s managing editor Michael Jacobs explains why these two concerns are misplaced. He discussed the windfall tax proposal in a Chartered Institute for Taxation and IFS event last week: view here.
  • The impact of the war. The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit issued a briefing note on the likely impact of the Ukraine crisis on UK energy bills and what could be done to mitigate them.

Food inflation and insecurity. The Russian attack on Ukraine has already had a major impact on global food prices, as higher oil prices affect food production costs. With the two countries supplying around a third of the world's wheat, its global price has already increased by 65%, to levels not seen for a decade. The IFPRI’s Joseph Glauber and David Laborde explain how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will affect global food security. Economist Noah Smith’s blog on ‘the Ukraine War and the price of bread’ provides further analysis.


Economic Crime Bill. As the Government’s Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill is rushed through Parliament, the House of Commons Library has published a research briefing on it. The FT also has explained what’s missing.

Sanctions against Russia. In the New Statesman, Adam Tooze comments that ‘the freezing of Russia’s central bank reserves has brought conflict to the heart of the international monetary system’. Duncan Weldon’s blog outlines the impact of the financial sanctions on the Russian economy so far.

  • Exempting Russian oil and gas. Tooze’s chartbook blog explains how the US left Russia’s energy industry out of the sanctions package. Commenting on the exemption of Russian oil and gas from the dollar payments ban, economist Frances Coppola explains why leaving Russian energy exports alone will limit the impact of sanctions.

Public services

The emergence of a two-tier health system. IPPR’s State of Health and Care 2022 has found a growing number of people have been resorting to private healthcare due to declining access and quality in the NHS. It argues that this risks normalising a two-tier health system for those who can afford it and declining access and quality for those who can’t. (Twitter thread and video summary.)

  • Lack of funding. Authors Chris Thomas, Victoria Poku-Amanfo and Parth Patel warn that the persistent underfunding of the NHS is causing recruitment and retention problems. They calculate that £12.6bn is needed in 2022/23 (rising to £20.2bn in 2024/25) to ensure greater planning certainty and to fund pay rises in a “bold retention strategy” for the workforce.
  • Life expectancy. Commenting on a separate report from the Health Foundation, the FT’s Sarah Evans and Chris Giles blame inequality and austerity for undermining UK life expectancy targets

Fiscal policy

BBC impartiality review. The BBC has announced details of the first of its ‘impartiality reviews’ aimed at raising editorial standards. Sir Andrew Dilnot and Michael Blastland will lead the first review into the BBC’s coverage of fiscal policy, tax and public spending. Among other things it will assess whether coverage of the government’s fiscal announcements (such as Budgets and Spending Reviews) include ‘a breadth of voices and viewpoints’. 


International Women's Day and a new economy. For International Womens’ Day, we thought we’d bring you a round up of some of the best new economic thinking on gender, from UBI to childcare: