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Top Takeaways for Associations from the Latest IPCC Climate Change Report

Updated: Aug 22, 2021

The recent IPCC report sent shockwaves around the globe. The warnings of irreversible and unprecedented changes will continue to impact the planet and humanity unless immediate action is taken.

The latest IPCC report warns that the planet is likely to reach above 1.5◦C warming much earlier than expected if no action is taken. This would breach the aims of the Paris Agreement and cause further climate induced disasters related to extreme weathers and rising sea levels.

With COP26 fast approaching, many organisations are sprinting to catch up and set targets and put measures in place to achieve net zero.

If they are not already, members will soon be looking to their membership organisation for guidance and direction.

We have summarised the key takeaways from the report, that membership organisations should consider when taking climate action.

1. It’s unequivocal that humans are warming the planet.

For the first time, the IPCC report has clearly stated that humans are responsible for the observed warming of the planet. All the pollution already in the atmosphere will continue to trap heat for upcoming years, regardless of actions taken. However, the extent global warming continues from now on is down to us.

Associations need to consider their people, their membership and what they can do to support the meeting of net zero carbon by 2050 as a minimum target. If global average temperature levels are limited to 1.5◦C, the severe weather warnings suggested in the report would become less frequent and destructive. Furthermore, the decarbonisation of the planet would also lead to notable improvements in air quality.

Membership organisations have four key jobs to do:

1. Take climate action internally at a corporate level

2. Understand the impact that their membership is having on the planet

3. Support their members by providing the necessary guidance to help them achieve their net zero targets

4. Look beyond target and implement industry-leading ambitions that deliver social and environmental impact.

2. Rapid reductions in emissions are essential

The IPCC report highlights the sense of urgency in accelerating decarbonisation over the next decade. The report warned that rapid reductions in emissions are required in this decade to prevent long-term climate breakdown.

Associations can no longer just rely on meeting net zero targets; they also need to begin to create immediate plans for decarbonisation. These plans should align with scientific advice and coincide with your organsiations net-zero aspirations. This is particularly relevant for associations that represent high emitting industries. Associations have a responsibility to support members at a policy level and through practical guidance, training and skills development.

3. Offsetting is a short-term solution

Offsetting is a common occurrence for large corporations who try to cover unavoidable emissions in the short term. However, the IPCC report has warned that the planet is drastically losing its ability to act as a carbon sink.

Offsetting, however, should only be used as a last resort and not in place of other carbon reduction methods. It is crucial for associations that are using this method, to align the use of offsetting with the net-zero agenda. There are many organisations out there that provide guidance on how associations can ensure their offsetting claims are credible.

4. Paris wasn’t enough

One thing is clear; the Paris Agreement wasn’t enough. The current pledges made by the Paris Agreement, will result in a 3◦C warming by 2100. These agreements need radical strengthening and to be addressed immediately. The upcoming COP26 will be a landmark moment, where we will see new global targets agreed. These targets will place enormous pressure on organisations to act with immediacy and operate in a truly integrated, collaborative and sustainable way. Associations play a key role in driving future policy, creating and implementing standards and best practice on behalf of the members that they represent.

5. Not all hope is lost

The climate emergency is out of control with immediate action required. If there is one key takeaway from the report, it is the urgency of the situation we are in. The good news is that there is a huge amount of opportunity. Adoption of, and changes to business practices and behaviors, the introduction of new technologies, systems and ways of working, present new possibilities for growth, innovation and total sustainability.

Associations have a real role to play and the chance to step up and be the leaders’ members expect them to be.


Join Climate Action for Associations now, to access the information, guidance and tools that you need to drive climate action both within your organisation and to support the members you represent.

If your organisation is implementing industry-leading practices and you have an example that you are willing to share, please get in contact with us at


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