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Climate change report and the need for peace and sustainable development 

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Smoke rising from chimneys set against a hazy orange sunset sky

University of Bradford professor delivers his verdict on IPCC report

Professor Prathivadi Anand

OPINION

Professor Prathivadi Anand, Professor of Public Policy and Sustainable Development, and head of the Division of Peace Studies and International Development at the University of Bradford comments on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) report, published this week.

Climate change is one of the most significant threats to human security and sustainable development in the 21st century. Emissions caused by human actions over the last 200 years are changing our climate, and in turn our planet, significantly.

The IPCC Report released this week (9 August) highlights the importance of reaching net zero emissions sooner to keep global average temperature increase to below 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050. The report compared model estimates of possible impacts of a much slower response, which will result in an increase of two degrees Celsius, with those of more concerted action to achieve 1.5 degrees C.

At the University of Bradford, sustainability is important to us. The commitment of our students and staff is reflected in our first-class grade in the People and Planet League. Our campus has won awards for being a sustainable campus. However, we are aware that a lot more needs to be done to significantly reduce our impact on the environment.  

There has already been considerable awareness of the impact human activities are having on the climate, especially through youth movements over the last four years. Students and staff at the University have also been organising various events, including a conference on Circular Economy (jointly with Indian Institute of Management, Jammu) led by our colleagues in the School of Management.  

Environmental issues have been front and centre of the programme at two international summer schools. Meanwhile, the Division of Peace Studies and International Development has organised several important public lectures. These culminated in the World Environmental Sustainability Day on 7 June 2021, when students and staff signed up to the Sustainability Pledge.

The Unify Festival and the World technology Universities Network have both promoted competitions on innovations to address sustainability challenges and bring us towards realising the sustainable development goals (SDGs). The University of Bradford signed the SDG Accord in June 2021.  

While the IPCC Report highlights the many potential risks due to increased warming and calls for urgent action to reduce vulnerabilities, especially of arctic regions, dry lands, small islands and least developed countries, the report's messages are a clear call for international co-operation and for significant investments into infrastructure and education.  

At the University of Bradford, we are already engaged in these actions and welcome students who are passionate about taking our environmental responsibility seriously and who are willing to contribute towards the science, knowledge and participatory action to promote human security and equitable and sustainable development, and to help societies  reach net carbon zero sooner, in order to keep warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Apply through clearing to study International Relations, Politics and Security Studies from this September.

What is the IPCC? 

The IPCC is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. It was established to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments on climate change, its implications and potential future risks, as well as to put forward adaptation and mitigation options.  

How often does the IPCC report and what does this year’s report say? 

The IPCC reports every seven years and the first three statements in the ‘headline summary for policymakers’ of the 2021 report make for stark reading:  

It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land. Widespread and rapid changes in the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere and biosphere have occurred.

The scale of recent changes across the climate system as a whole and the present state of many aspects of the climate system are unprecedented over many centuries to many thousands of years. 

Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe. Evidence of observed changes in extremes such as heatwaves, heavy precipitation, droughts, and tropical cyclones, and, in particular, their attribution to human influence, has strengthened since the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of 2014.

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