Climate protesters in Sydney, November 202 (Image: Dan Himbrechts/AAP)
Climate protesters in Sydney, November 2022 (Image: AAP/Dan Himbrechts)

“An atlas of human suffering” could really have been the title track for any number of events in the past weeks, months or years. But these words were used by United Nations secretary-general António Guterres on Monday when he declared the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report “a damning indictment of failed climate leadership”.

The 2022 IPCC report details how climate change will split the world in half, between those who have the resources to survive the impact and those who do not; how every additional tenth degree of warming means many more people will die from health problems relating to heat, air pollution, infectious disease and starvation; and how, even if we limit warming to 1.5 degrees, children of age 12 will still live through four times the amount of floods, bushfires and other natural disasters. 

Perhaps the most urgent message is just how narrow the window is for change, and just how much we stand to lose. As climate activist Greta Thunberg says on Twitter, “Literally everything is at stake.”