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The IPCC AR6 Synthesis Report- a view from PLOS Climate

Written by Jamie Males, Executive Editor of PLOS Climate

This week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published the Synthesis Report for its AR6 cycle. This represents the culmination of years of intensive work by an international team of expert authors and review editors; a vital but demanding contribution that must be given due recognition even as we dissect the contents of the report itself. Several of PLOS Climate‘s editorial board members have been involved in the preparation of both the Synthesis Report and the Working Group reports that preceded it, and we congratulate them and all their colleagues on their collective achievement.

The Synthesis Report highlights the manifold dangers inherent in the inadequate abatement of greenhouse gas emissions, and the consequent rapid pace of anthropogenic climate change and its unfolding impacts. These impacts entail ever deepening social, economic and ecological costs and heightened risks, including those associated with climate-related natural hazards. This is what motivated PLOS Climate to join forces with PLOS Water and PLOS ONE for a cross-journal call for papers on the Prediction and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, which is open for submissions until 14th July 2023. Our call for papers on Climate Change and Human Health with PLOS Global Public Health also remains open for submissions until 28th April 2023, and we are warmly encouraging submissions both on the health impacts of climate change and on evidence-based measures for adaptation in health systems. Meanwhile, PLOS Climate Section Editor Ana Maria Loboguerrero (CGIAR) is convening a Mini Collection of articles addressing the climate-security nexus, a growing field of study and an area of climate change impacts that is of increasing political concern.

The authors of the IPCC Synthesis Report are at pains to emphasise that whilst ongoing failures to take sufficiently bold action on climate change have put humanity- and our planet- in an increasingly perilous situation, real and effective options do exist that could move us onto a climate trajectory closer to the goals of the Paris Agreement. This focus on pathways to safer climate futures is one that is shared with PLOS Climate‘s editorial mission, which expresses a clear aim to help catalyse practical solutions to the climate crisis.

With this in mind, PLOS Climate is planning forthcoming Mini Collections on systemic decarbonisation and net zero policy programmes, as well as projects focusing on the nexus between climate, food and biodiversity. A specific focus will be climate-related aspects of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework; we are working with recent PLOS Climate author Paul Leadley (University of Paris-Saclay) and our Academic Editor Florian Egli (ETH Zürich) to bring together a range of contributions on this topic. We are also looking forward to sharing our upcoming PLOS Climate and PLOS Water Collection of highly interdisciplinary research and reviews on ecological, biophysical, sociological and political dimensions of nature-based solutions (for which the call for papers recently closed).

In light of the deep and cross-cutting changes that are required, it is vital to understand both specific and systemic barriers to effective climate action, considering the full range of societal stakeholders and actors. Our Academic Editor Marco Grasso (University of Milan-Bicocca) is therefore convening a Mini Collection focused on understanding and responding to climate obstructionism, and we have also been working with Ulf Hahnel (University of Basel) and Tobias Brosch (University of Geneva) on a Mini Collection that addresses the cognitive, affective and social dimensions of public support for climate polices.

The Synthesis Report emphasises the need for equity and inclusion to be at the heart of all forms of climate action. The same principles- along with links to the Sustainable Development Goals- underpin our ongoing call for papers on Gender and Adaptation in the Global South, which is led by a panel of Guest Editors that includes two members of the Synthesis Report writing team and is open for submissions until 14th July 2023. Questions of climate finance for adaptation and responding to loss and damage took centre stage at COP27, and our Academic Editor Stéphane Goutte (University of Paris-Saclay) is now developing a Mini Collection on climate finance to explore some of these themes in greater depth.

More broadly, PLOS Climate is continuing its work to strengthen the interface between academic research and decision-/policy-making processes. With PLOS Sustainability & Transformation and PLOS Water, we will soon be launching a Collection of articles on environmental policy to showcase the diverse contributions our authors are making to the discourse across this arena. Watch this space!

PLOS Climate welcomes submissions in all areas of climate research, with an emphasis on collaborative, interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary work that improves global and regional understanding of climate phenomena and informs critical strategies for combating climate change.

  1. As a 75 year old citizen, I find myself with these thoughts ;
    a. there is nothing to be done in a difficult world, or rather
    b. there is much to be done.

    Therefore now in raising children and grandchildren in a difficult world, we all can only be;
    a. part of the problem, or rather
    b. part of the solution
    Which gives some hope and a job to do, to mend this world in myriad ways.

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