Top Ten New Insights on the Climate

Bushfires on December 31, 2019 burning along the east coast of Australia. The brown area is burned vegetation with a width of about 50 km and a length of 100 km. Source: European Space Agency (ESA), contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data (2019), processed by ESA, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

Leading scientists have released the 10 most important new insights on the climate. 

  1. Stabilizing at 1.5°C warming is still possible, but immediate and drastic global action is required. 
  2. Rapid growth in methane and nitrous oxide emissions put us on track for 2.7°C warming. 
  3. Megafires – climate change forces fire extremes to reach new dimensions with extreme impacts. 
  4. Climate tipping elements incur high-impact risks. 
  5. Global climate action must be just. 
  6. Supporting household behaviour changes is a crucial but often overlooked opportunity for climate action.
  7. Political challenges impede the effectiveness of carbon pricing.
  8. Nature-based solutions are critical for the pathway to Paris – but look at the fine print. 
  9. Building resilience of marine ecosystems is achievable by climate-adapted conservation and management, and global stewardship. 
  10. Costs of climate change mitigation can be justified by the multiple immediate benefits to the health of humans and nature.

The  report was presented to Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at COP26.

Dr. Wendy Broadgate, Future Earth Global Hub Director, Sweden, said:

”Whilst we are rapidly running out of time to limit climate change, this report shows that stabilizing at 1.5°C is still possible, but only if immediate and drastic global action is taken.

“Nothing short of 50% greenhouse gas reductions by 2030 and net zero targets by 2040 is sufficient.”

The report warns that we are on the verge of or already past the point of exhausting the carbon budget for exceeding global warming of 1.5°C, with observed increases in methane and nitrous oxide emissions that may even set us on a path to 2.7°C warming.

As temperature warms, so too does the risk of carbon-feedback cycles that may lower the threshold climate tipping points, such as the observed rapid melting of the Antarctic Pine glacier that may result in sea level rise of 0.5 meters or more.

Given that human and ecosystem health are inextricably linked, deep transformations of energy and consumption patterns are required that must also take into account justice and equity, including support for vulnerable populations.

Prof. Detlef Stammer, Professor at the University of Hamburg and Joint Scientific Committee Chair of the World Climate Research Programme, stated:

“Our knowledge of the climate system has grown rapidly in recent years, but policymaking has yet to catch up with these critical advances.

“This report’s findings are a strong call to decision-makers to meet the urgency of the state of our climate and help put us back on a path to a sustainable future.”

The 10 New Insights in Climate Science series is a joint initiative of Future Earth, the Earth League, and the World Climate Research Programme. The 10 New Insights in Climate Science 2021 report was prepared by a consortium of 54 leading researchers from 21 countries. The annual series synthesizes the latest climate change related research for the international science-policy community. Since 2017, installments have been launched annually at the Climate COP with the UNFCCC Executive Secretary. Learn more at

Professor Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Co-Chair of the Earth League, explained:

“Science is clear, exceeding 1.5°C of global warming poses major challenges for humans and societies around the world, and raises the risks of crossing critical tipping points that regulate the state of the climate system.

“We do not know exactly at what temperature rise tipping elements shift from dampening to self-reinforcing global warming, but it is increasingly clear that we must stay as far away as possible from 2°C.

“This makes tipping elements like the Greenland ice sheet and our large forest systems, our new global commons, which need to be governed by the world community, to secure our future on Earth.”

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