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What does the IPCC report mean for SG?

Updated: Apr 22

Cartoon drawing of a circle figure that is white on top and has red waves on the bottom half like the SGCR logo, with eyes open wide and an open mouth, holding a blue book titled IPCC AR6 Synthesis Report. The figure is standing on a spotlight in the shape of the Singapore map.  What does the IPCC report mean for SG?

Images of the covers of the past 6 IPCC reports, each with a light blue or dark blue cover and images of abstract colourful patterns, solar panels, or natural landscapes.  The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Synthesis Report of the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) was released on 20 March, after being approved by 195 countries. It is a summary of the main findings of the three previous sections of the AR6, as well as three other shorter IPCC reports, on the state of knowledge about climate change. We summarise the main findings in the following slides.

News article with headline: “Singapore 'potential claimant for global loss and damage funding: Environment minister” and blurb saying “The wealthy city-state has developing country status in global conventions, which could see it become a receiver of climate funds. Singapore has maintained that countries with a long history of industrialisation should pay.”  Almost half the world population is highly vulnerable to extreme weather and are 15 times more likely to die from it, but also contribute 15 times less emissions than the top 10%. The impacts will worsen, but they are not getting enough finance for adaptation. In SG: Despite being one of the richest countries in the world, our government is still seeking to receive climate aid rather than contribute to it, by claiming “developing country” status.

Sources (quotes from report):

  • Approximately 3.3–3.6 billion people live in contexts that are highly vulnerable to climate change.

  • Between 2010 and 2020, human mortality from floods, droughts and storms was 15 times higher in highly vulnerable regions, compared to regions with very low vulnerability.

  • The 10% of households with the highest per capita emissions contribute 34–45% of global consumption-based household GHG emissions, while the bottom 50% contribute 13–15%”

  • *The 15x is derived from roughly 3x more emissions by the top 10%, and that the bottom 50% is 5x more people

  • Current global financial flows for adaptation are insufficient for, and constrain implementation of, adaptation options, especially in developing countries


Though countries have improved their targets, they are unlikely to meet them with current policies actually in place. There is a big gap between emission targets and projected emissions from actual policies, which means the world will likely exceed 1.5ºC warming. In SG: While Singapore has pledged to reach net zero emissions in 2050, this is much slower than what is necessary to limit warming to 1.5ºC. Furthermore, there is lack of transparency on what policies will be implemented to ensure if even the 2050 net zero goal can be achieved.

Sources (quotes from report):

  • A.4 Policies and laws addressing mitigation have consistently expanded since AR5. Global GHG emissions in 2030 implied by nationally determined contributions (NDCs) announced by October 2021 make it likely that warming will exceed 1.5°C during the 21st century and make it harder to limit warming below 2°C. There are gaps between projected emissions from implemented policies and those from NDCs and finance flows fall short of the levels needed to meet climate goals across all sectors and regions. (high confidence)

  • A substantial ‘emissions gap’ exists between global GHG emissions in 2030 associated with the implementation of NDCs announced prior to COP2626 and those associated with modelled mitigation pathways that limit warming to 1.5°C (>50%) with no or limited overshoot or limit warming to 2°C (>67%) assuming immediate action (high confidence). This would make it likely that warming will exceed 1.5°C during the 21st century (high confidence).

  • B.6 All global modelled pathways that limit warming to 1.5°C (>50%) with no or limited overshoot, and those that limit warming to 2°C (>67%), involve rapid and deep and, in most cases, immediate greenhouse gas emissions reductions in all sectors this decade.

How we act in this decade is incredibly important. Even if we don’t build any more fossil fuel plants, the existing ones will already exhaust the carbon budget for 1.5ºC. “The choices and actions implemented in this decade will have impacts now and for thousands of years” In SG: Singapore has pledged to phase out unabated coal, but only by 2050. We can afford to accelerate this transition.  Other than coal, we also need to lay out clear plans on the phasing out or emissions abatement of other fossil fuels such as natural gas and oil, which make up more than 95% of our electricity source.

Sources (quotes from report):

  • B.5 Limiting human-caused global warming requires net zero CO2 emissions. Cumulative carbon emissions until the time of reaching net-zero CO2 emissions and the level of greenhouse gas emission reductions this decade largely determine whether warming can be limited to 1.5°C or 2°C (high confidence). Projected CO2 emissions from existing fossil fuel infrastructure without additional abatement would exceed the remaining carbon budget for 1.5°C (50%) (high confidence).

  • C.1 Climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health (very high confidence). There is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all (very high confidence). Climate resilient development integrates adaptation and mitigation to advance sustainable development for all, and is enabled by increased international cooperation including improved access to adequate financial resources, particularly for vulnerable regions, sectors and groups, and inclusive governance and coordinated policies (high confidence). The choices and actions implemented in this decade will have impacts now and for thousands of years (high confidence). {3.1, 3.3, 4.1, 4.2, 4.3, 4.4, 4.7, 4.8, 4.9, Figure 3.1, Figure 3.3, Figure 4.2} (Figure SPM.1; Figure SPM.6)

Diagram labelled “Future climate change is projected to increase the severity of impacts across natural and human systems and will increase regional differences. Examples of impacts without additional adaptation. Risk of species losses: Percentage of animal species and seagrasses exposed to potentially dangerous temperature conditions” World maps coloured with percentage of species loss in scenarios from 1.5, 2.0, 3.0 and 4.0ºC, showing increasing losses concentrated at the equator, reaching near 100% around the equator in the last scenario.  Adverse impacts from human-caused climate change will continue to intensify, and are higher than what was estimated previously. Every increment of global warming means even more extreme impacts experienced regionally. Adaptation also becomes less feasible and less effective with increasing warming.

Diagram labelled “Heat-humidity risks to human health” showing the world map coloured with number of days with high risk at 1991-2005 historical levels, 1.7-2.3ºC, 2.4-3.1ºC and 4.2-5.4ºC scenarios. The number of days gets higher in each scenario and concentrated in the belt around the equator, almost reaching 365 days in the last one.  In SG: Being at the equator, Singapore will be particularly affected by increased heat and rain beyond what most other countries will experience. The hot weather we experience now will only get hotter, — but we can decide by how much if we act now. If emissions don’t slow down urgently, there is little we can do once we reach the hard adaptation limits.  Are our adaptation plans taking into account scenarios where climate risks are escalated due to increasing warming?

Diagram titled "The extent to which current and future generations will experience a hotter and different world depends on choices now and in the near-term". It shows a bar from 1900 to 2100 coloured from blue to dark red representing temperature change from 0 to 4ºC. From 2020 to 2100 it splits into 5 future emissions scenarios from very low to very high, going up to 4ºC on the top and around 1.5ºC at the bottom in 2100. Below the bar are diagrams represent people born in 1950, 1980 and 2020, showing the temperature changes they will experience in their lifetimes from 0 to 70 years old.

Sources (quotes from report):

  • ​​For any given future warming level, many climate-related risks are higher than assessed in AR5, and projected long-term impacts are up to multiple times higher than currently observed(high confidence). Risks and projected adverse impacts and related losses and damages from climate change escalate with every increment of global warming (very high confidence). Climatic and non-climatic risks will increasingly interact, creating compound and cascading risks that are more complex and difficult to manage (high confidence).

There are multiple opportunities to scale up climate mitigation and adaptation based on existing solutions, many of which are already feasible, effective and low-cost. In SG: We can afford to be much more ambitious in our emission targets. Upscaling solar, ecosystem conservation and restoration, sustainable agricultural practices and efficient public transport are some examples of accessible solutions.

Sources (quotes from report):

  • C.3 Rapid and far-reaching transitions across all sectors and systems are necessary to achieve deep and sustained emissions reductions and secure a liveable and sustainable future for all. These system transitions involve a significant upscaling of a wide portfolio of mitigation and adaptation options. Feasible, effective, and low-cost options for mitigation and adaptation are already available, with differences across systems and regions. (high confidence) {4.1, 4.5, 4.6} (Figure SPM.7)

Meme of happy face with words “implementing green policies and taking stronger climate action” and sad face with words “neglecting climate justice so vulnerable and marginalised communities and impacted” Meme of picture of “hard to swallow pills”, with next frame saying “higher carbon taxes will only harm the lower-income if we do not have redistributive policies”  The transition must be just and equitable. The wealthy need to reduce emissions the most. Including a diverse group of actors in civil society, including indigenous peoples, labour, and local communities is needed for effective climate action  In SG: Well, we repeat this same point in every post, so let’s just end off by revisiting some memes

Sources (quotes from report):

  • C.5 Prioritising equity, climate justice, social justice, inclusion and just transition processes can enable adaptation and ambitious mitigation actions and climate resilient development. Adaptation outcomes are enhanced by increased support to regions and people with the highest vulnerability to climatic hazards. Integrating climate adaptation into social protection programs improves resilience. Many options are available for reducing emission-intensive consumption, including through behavioural and lifestyle changes, with co-benefits for societal well-being. (high confidence) {4.4, 4.5}

  • C.5.4 The design of regulatory instruments and economic instruments and consumption-based approaches, can advance equity. Individuals with high socio-economic status contribute disproportionately to emissions, and have the highest potential for emissions reductions.

  • Policy support is influenced by actors in civil society, including businesses, youth, women, labour, media, Indigenous Peoples, and local communities. Effectiveness is enhanced by political commitment and partnerships between different groups in society.

  • Equity and distributional impacts of such carbon pricing instruments, e.g., carbon taxes and emissions trading, can be addressed by using revenue to support low-income households, among other approaches.

  • C.6.5 Drawing on diverse knowledges and cultural values, meaningful participation and inclusive engagement processes—including Indigenous Knowledge, local knowledge, and scientific knowledge—facilitates climate resilient development, builds capacity and allows locally appropriate and socially acceptable solutions. (high confidence)

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