The weather is changing. Faster than we ever thought it would. Rainfall patterns are changing, temperatures are rising, flood and drought episodes are more frequent not just in Kenya, but globally too. The scientific community has been, for some time now, talking about an increase in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events as our climate changes due to human activities continuously releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
For those of us who follow climate news, you no doubt must have seen the rampant damage that flooding has caused in the last few months in Europe and parts of Asia. From Belgium to Germany to China, massive flooding has destroyed millions of dollars’ worth of property and sadly lives have been lost.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the global body that assesses up to date Climate Change research, hosted over 195 Countries to a two-week virtual session to discuss and agree on the findings of the Working Group 1 (WGI) contribution to the 6th Assessment Report (AR6) of the IPCC. This Report released on 9th August 2021 is the latest scientific assessment following extensive research of papers from scientific authors all over the world and highlights the Physical Basis of climate change. The last report was released in the year 2013.
What is the latest WGI IPCC Report about?
The last Report, AR5, used Representative concentration pathways (RCPs) to simulate long-term emissions and subsequently climate change; this sixth report, AR6, uses Shared Socioeconomic pathways that look at a far greater range of options or scenarios. There’s an increased focus on lower degrees of warming because of these scenarios. Levels of warming like 1.5°C and 2°C can be assessed more rigorously than in AR5.
The newly released Working Group I (WGI) report includes an assessment of the latest, most updated, research on the physical understanding of the climate system and climate change. It brings together the latest advances in climate science and combines multiple lines of evidence from paleo-climate, observations, process understanding, global and regional climate simulations.
This report is policy relevant and not policy prescriptive, to allow governments to decide based on concrete science what measures to put in place to curb climate change and cushion their citizens from adverse impacts. It also shows how and why climate has changed to date, and the improved understanding of human influence on a wider range of climate characteristics, including extreme events.
There is a greater focus on regional information that can be used for climate risk assessments. This report also provides more robust science on risk & impact assessment going beyond extremes to consider other factors that are relevant for risk assessments that are slow onset and might appear over longer time scales such as droughts. It provides crucial science for negotiations at the upcoming United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 26th Conference of Parties -(UNFCCC_COP26) especially on matters of sea level rise and others that affect the country, region and continent.
Compared with previous IPCC assessments, there is a greater focus on solutions across all Working Groups, more regional information, and more integration across Working Groups. This report will provide more integrated knowledge and better understanding compared to the previous report (AR5).
How is Kenya involved?
Kenya, as is similar to other Countries, was ably represented at the meeting by a multidisciplinary expert team. The AR6 is a welcome tool for most of the developing countries, including Kenya, as it is intended to influence policy, to exhibit better representation of the regional specificities of drivers and impacts of climate change. This report also places greater focus on attribution of extreme events to human driven climate change, which is an emerging field of research especially on the African continent.
More details of the IPCC Report can be sourced from the official IPCC website A more regional application and understanding of the report can be sourced from the Kenya Meteorological Department through writing an email to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org or engaging with us on our twitter handle @meteokenya.
The Kenya Meteorological Department is the national authoritative voice of weather and climate information in Kenya. The Department is mandated to provide early warning services for weather and climate information for the safety of life, protection of property and conservation of the natural environment.