The world has been told it needs to brace itself for “unavoidable” and “multiple” climate threats in the next 20 years as the tipping point to halt the impact of global warming has been passed.
It came as UN secretary general, António Guterres, (pic) described the level of governmental inaction as criminal and called for the end to the use of coal with those who “underwrite” oil and gas projects to be told to cease.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued its latest report on the climate change and its impact which concludes human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world, despite efforts to reduce the risks.
IPCC chair Hoesung Lee said the need for urgent action was acute.
“This report is a dire warning about the consequences of inaction,” he explained. “It shows that climate change is a grave and mounting threat to our wellbeing and a healthy planet. Our actions today will shape how people adapt and nature responds to increasing climate risks.”
Lee added: “The stakes for our planet have never been higher. Immediate and more ambitious action are need to combat climate risk.”
Guterres went further telling a media briefing, “we are on a frogmarch to annihilation.” He added the report was “an atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership.”
“But according to current commitments, global emissions are set to increase almost 14 per cent over the current decade. That spells catastrophe. It will destroy any chance of keeping 1.5 alive,” Guterres said.
He said the world had reached the point where the production of coal should now be “stopped”.
Guterres continued that oil and gas giants, and their underwriters, are also on notice. “You cannot claim to be green while your plans and projects undermine the 2050 net-zero target and ignore the major emissions cuts that must occur this decade. People see through this smokescreen.”
The IPCC report said the world faces” unavoidable multiple climate hazards over the next two decades with global warming of 1.5°C (2.7°F).
“Even temporarily exceeding this warming level will result in additional severe impacts, some of which will be irreversible. Risks for society will increase, including to infrastructure and low-lying coastal settlements.”
It warned urgent action is now required to deal with increasing risks
“Increased heatwaves, droughts and floods are already exceeding plants’ and animals’ tolerance thresholds, driving mass mortalities in species such as trees and corals,” it explained. “These weather extremes are occurring simultaneously, causing cascading impacts that are increasingly difficult to manage. They have exposed millions of people to acute food and water insecurity, especially in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, on Small Islands and in the Arctic.
“To avoid mounting loss of life, biodiversity and infrastructure, ambitious, accelerated action is required to adapt to climate change, at the same time as making rapid, deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. So far, progress on adaptation is uneven and there are increasing gaps between action taken and what is needed to deal with the increasing risks, the new report finds. These gaps are largest among lower-income populations.”
“This report recognizes the interdependence of climate, biodiversity and people and integrates natural, social and economic sciences more strongly than earlier IPCC assessments,” said Lee. “It emphasises the urgency of immediate and more ambitious action to address climate risks. Half measures are no longer an option.”
The IPCC said scientists have pointed out that climate change interacts with global trends such as unsustainable use of natural resources, growing urbanisation, social inequalities, losses and damages from extreme events and a pandemic, jeopardizing future development.
“Our assessment clearly shows that tackling all these different challenges involves everyone – governments, the private sector, civil society – working together to prioritise risk reduction, as well as equity and justice, in decision-making and investment,” said IPCC Working Group II co-chair Debra Roberts. “In this way, different interests, values and world views can be reconciled. By bringing together scientific and technological know-how as well as Indigenous and local knowledge, solutions will be more effective. Failure to achieve climate resilient and sustainable development will result in a sub-optimal future for people and nature.”
The report warned people’s health, lives and livelihoods, as well as property and critical infrastructure, including energy and transportation systems, are being increasingly adversely affected by hazards from heatwaves, storms, drought and flooding as well as slow-onset changes, including sea level rise.
“Together, growing urbanisation and climate change create complex risks, especially for those cities that already experience poorly planned urban growth, high levels of poverty and unemployment, and a lack of basic services,” Roberts said. “But cities also provide opportunities for climate action – green buildings, reliable supplies of clean water and renewable energy, and sustainable transport systems that connect urban and rural areas can all lead to a more inclusive, fairer society.”