Every few years the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) releases an assessment, which consists of several reports prepared by three working groups. Working Group I focuses on the scientific evidence for climate change; Working Group II on the impacts, adaptation and vulnerabilities; and Working Group III on mitigation, what we can do about it (and what's stopping us). The 2018 IPCC report got a LOT of media attention, more than any previous report, thanks to a combination of uncharacteristically stark warnings from climate scientists and a media cycle that wasn't quite as inundated with crises as the current one.
On April 4, 2022, the IPCC released the mitigation report for its current cycle and folks if the 2018 report was blunt, this one is absolutely screaming "do something!!!" Yet, coverage was as slim as those pre-2018 days. There are lots of mitigating circumstances, 'scuse the pun. For a start, the release of the report was pushed back thanks to the fraught approval process for the report's Summary for Policymakers, or SPM (you can read more about that here). That meant that reporters got zero time with the actual report before we had to write about it, which was particularly problematic because some government representatives involved in the SPM process succeeded in watering it down so much it reads like the summary of an entirely different report. Plenty of reporters will only read the SPM; if they do, they'll miss the importance of this report. Then of course there's Russia's invasion of Ukraine, subsequent war crimes, and the world bracing itself for WWIII. And the endless pulse of Covid-19 vibrating underneath at all. Not to mention mass shootings, insane school boards, book banning, a looming Trump 2024 campaign, the midterms that Democrats seem destined to lose, a Supreme Court nomination process that McConnell is doing everything to derail yet again. These are deeply troubled times. So I get why the story of yet another dire warning on climate might not register for some outlets.
But that's why I'm here. I'm a climate reporter. It's all I focus on, and pretty much all I think about, and I've been covering IPCC reports for 20 years so I've got a pretty good handle on them.
2022 IPCC Mitigation Report, Part 1: Debunking Demand
An ode to Chapter Five