by Rhyann Green

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the first chapter of its sixth assessment on Aug. 9, 2021. The Summary for Policymakers (SPM) states, with high confidence, that human activities have played a role in climate change, and without immediate changes, its effects will become apparent.

“Populations at disproportionately higher risk of adverse consequences with global warming of 1.5°C and beyond include disadvantaged and vulnerable populations, some indigenous peoples, and local communities dependent on agricultural or coastal livelihoods,” the synopsis said.

The IPCC is governed by the United Nations and is made up of 195 countries, which each reviewed and agreed to every line published in the SPM. The entire report consists of 3,949 pages. According to The Independent, 234 scientists from 66 countries took part in its authorship. The following two chapters in the assessment, conducted by different groups of scientists, will be released next year.

Within the report, several recommendations are made to curb further warming. Quirin Schiermeier, writing for the science journal Nature, reports severe changes are suggested for the agricultural industry. The primary advice for individuals is to consume less meat and emphasizes the benefits of plant-based diets, both for personal health benefits and mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.

Cows, in particular, are a major concern: “Cattle raised on pastures created by clearing woodland are particularly emission-intensive. This practice often comes with large-scale deforestation, as seen in Brazil and Colombia. Cows also produce large amounts of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, as they digest their food.”

The IPCC report also warns farmers will have to prepare to grapple with extreme weather effects as the result of climate change. André Laperrière, the executive director of Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition, interviewed by Schiermeier, states the biggest challenge will be teaching a vast number of farmers to adjust their methods to be more carbon sensitive.