The Earth has already warmed by at least 1.1 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) compared to pre-industrial times in the mid 19th century. In 2015, world leaders agreed after intense negotiations to limit global warming to a common target of 1.5 degrees. So far, no major country is on schedule to meet this goal.
Future scenarios clearly show that climate change can only be halted with a radical transformation of the world’s energy system. In addition, the report stressed that measures to adapt to the effects of climate change must already be implemented today.
This will save lives and money, when compared with the costs of unchecked climate change on the global economy and society. However, the window of opportunity to achieve these goals is closing fast, the scientists said. By 2030, the global community needs to nearly halve its emissions from burning coal, oil and gas, or face warming of around 3 degrees Celsius.
Guterres called on world leaders and fossil fuel companies to “massively fast-track climate efforts by every country and every sector and on every time frame.” Speaking on Monday, he presented a plan to accelerate net-zero climate deadlines, invest in realistic innovations and deliver climate justice to those experiencing the worst effects of climate change.
Rising temperatures, natural disasters and irreversible ecosystem degradation are becoming increasingly life-threatening for humans and nature all over the world, top scientists warned in a major new report released Monday by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Efforts made so far to avoid passing a dangerous global threshold have been “insufficient to tackle climate change,” but multiple options are still available. “Mainstreaming effective and equitable climate action will not only reduce losses and damages for nature and people, it will also provide wider benefits,” said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee.
“This Synthesis Report underscores the urgency of taking more ambitious action and shows that, if we act now, we can still secure a livable sustainable future for all. Today’s IPCC report is a how-to guide to defuse the climate time-bomb,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “It is a survival guide for humanity. As it shows, the 1.5-degree limit is achievable. But it will take a quantum leap in climate action.”
Climate protection measures fall short The fundamental message of all the IPCC’s reports is unequivocal. “Without urgent, effective, and equitable mitigation and adaptation actions, climate change increasingly threatens ecosystems, biodiversity, and the livelihoods, health and well-being of current and future generations,” said the report, compiled by 93 authors.
Humanity has drastically altered the planet in just a few centuries, with responsibility for climate change linked to the burning of coal, oil and gas. At no time in the past 2 million years have CO2 concentrations in the Earth’s atmosphere been as high as they are today.