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9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Social Studies, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences, English Language Arts

Resource Type

  • Scientific Papers or Reports, 16 pages

Regional Focus




Climate Change 2021: Summary for All

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  • This 16-page report explains climate change in a way that most people can understand, using illustrations, infographics, and graphs to help readers understand the content.
  • It details how our climate has changed, how we know it is our actions that are to blame, and what is needed to stop it.
  • The report summarizes the findings of the first part of the IPCC's Sixth Assessment Report on climate change and was updated in 2022.
Teaching Tips


  • This report is a fantastic tool for introducing students to the science of climate change.
  • The report is intended for a general audience, answering complex questions like "How do we know climate change is happening?" by starting with an explanation of the greenhouse effect.
  • The report discusses various topics, including climate models, extreme weather, and natural variability.

Additional Prerequisites

  • It is important to note that this report only addresses how to limit climate change from a physical science perspective. The second and third reports address climate adaptation and other mitigation and emissions reduction efforts, respectively.
  • The report can be downloaded and used offline.


  • Since the report contains many of the basics of climate science, it may be helpful for students to have a copy to refer back to as they continue to learn about climate change.
  • Although it is only a summary, this report still contains a lot of technical information. Therefore, have students read through the report in sections and then discuss it as a class.
  • Younger students can read the report as a class, with additional support from the teacher or the use of vocabulary terms and a graphic organizer.
  • As an extension, have more advanced students research and write about whether their government's climate change policies align with the findings presented in the report. 
  • Have students watch this video to learn more about the IPCC before reading the paper.
Scientist Notes
This resource is a summary from the IPCC about climate change in 2021. The report is put out by working group 1, so it focuses on the physical science, even when discussing solutions. Other working groups focus more on mitigation, emission reduction, and adaptation. These groups also have content linked in the PDF. This summary goes through the basics of, weather, climate, climate change, how we are sure it’s human caused, impacts, what climate models are, what may happen in the future, and what we can do to limit climate change. Impacts on land, ocean, ice, and the atmosphere are discussed. This is the summary for the public so it is digestible for non-scientists. The IPCC does have longer and more technical reports, as well as information on all the studies they synthesized to make these reports available on their website. The information presented is accurate. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS2: Earth's Systems
      • HS-ESS2-2 Analyze geoscience data to make the claim that one change to Earth’s surface can create feedbacks that cause changes to other Earth systems.
      • HS-ESS2-4 Use a model to describe how variations in the flow of energy into and out of Earth’s systems result in changes in climate.
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-5 Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth systems.
      • HS-ESS3-6 Use a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.
  • Common Core English Language Arts Standards (CCSS.ELA)
    • Reading: Science & Technical Subjects (6-12)
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.1 Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts, attending to the precise details of explanations or descriptions.
      • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RST.9-10.2 Determine the central ideas or conclusions of a text; trace the text's explanation or depiction of a complex process, phenomenon, or concept; provide an accurate summary of the text.
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