1. Background
  2. Environment & Energy

Interfaith Resource on Climate Reports

By Milo Keller, Emily Wirzba, March 4, 2019

In 2018, two major climate change reports were released that have shifted both our understanding of the catastrophic current and future impacts of climate change as well as the timeline we must operate under to avoid the worst effects. These were the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Global Warming of 1.5 Degrees C Special Report, and the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA) Volume II.

Both these reports contain a wealth of information on climate change and its effects in the world, as well as region-specific data. FCNL’s Sustainable Energy & Environment Program, in coalition with partners in the Washington Interreligious Staff Community’s (WISC) Energy and Ecology Working Group, created fact sheets for each report to synthesize their most important findings.

These documents can be used as easy way to learn about how climate change is affecting your community, now and in the future. They can also be used as a resource in in-district lobbying and other forms of climate activism.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), created by the World Meteorological Association and the United Nations Environment Programme in 1988, was directed to provide climate science information to governments at all levels. As part of the Paris Climate Agreement, member nations asked the IPCC to prepare a report on the effects of global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. It represents the work of researchers from 40 countries and includes more than 6,000 scientific references.

This report was released and approved by member nations in October of 2018. Though the U.S. State Department formally signed on to the report’s summary for policymakers, it later released a statement saying that “acceptance of the report and its Summary for Policymakers by the IPCC does not imply endorsement of specific findings or underlying contents of the report by the United States.”

The IPCC report details the dramatic difference in consequences between 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming and 2 degrees. Most importantly, it demonstrates that the greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals needed to remain under 1.5 degrees of global warming must be much more ambitious than previously recognized. The goal of the Paris Climate Agreement, which is an important step forward but not sufficient, was to keep global warming “well below” 2 degrees Celsius.

National Climate Assessment

The second report was the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA) Volume II. Congress, as part of the passage of the Global Change Research Act of 1990, created the National Climate Assessment as an interagency effort to provide the government with comprehensive information on climate science.

The Fourth Assessment was released in two volumes, with Volume II being released in November 2018. It detailed the projected impacts of climate change on the United States under several global warming scenarios, breaking up its assessment into ten regions of the U.S. and its territories. Thirteen federal agencies reviewed and approved the report.

WISC Energy and Ecology Working Group

The Washington Interreligious Staff Community’s (WISC) Energy and Ecology Working Group consists of more than 25 national religious organizations with grassroots networks in every state and internationally. As communities of faith, we are guided by values of stewardship and justice. We recognize that God’s creation is sacred and thus we are called to responsibly steward the gifts of creation while protecting our most vulnerable neighbors and communities. Through our faith background and on-the-ground experience, we bring expertise on a wide variety of environmental issues.

Milo Keller

  • Program Assistant, Sustainable Energy and Environment

Milo Keller served as the Program Assistant for Sustainable Energy and Environment for 2018-2019.

Emily Wirzba

  • Former Legislative Manager, Sustainable Energy and Environment

Emily Wirzba led FCNL’s lobbying work to achieve bipartisan recognition of climate change and action in Congress. She served as co-chair of the Washington Interreligious Staff Community's Energy and Ecology Working Group.