PARIS: The world will cross the key 1.5 degree Celsius global warming limit in about a decade, the United Nations said on Monday (Mar 20), warning that devastating impacts of climate change are hitting faster than expected.
In the final instalment of a major series of reports, delivered in a crucial decade in human history, the UN’s climate advisory panel urged dramatic reductions in planet-heating emissions.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s key message is that while humanity has driven the planet to the precipice of climate catastrophe, there is still time to steer global temperatures to within relatively safe limits.
That will require enormous global effort.
“Rapid and far-reaching transitions across all sectors and systems are necessary to achieve deep and sustained emissions reductions and secure a liveable and sustainable future for all,” said the report’s “summary for policymakers”.
Distilling the weight of scientific knowledge on climate change, the IPCC’s work will form the basis of intense political and economic negotiations in the coming years, starting with the UN COP28 climate negotiations in Dubai later this year.
The 36-page “summary for policymakers” – a synthesis of six major reports since 2018 from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – is a brutal reminder that while humanity has the tools to prevent climate catastrophe, it is still not putting them to use.
The world is currently set to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – considered a safer limit to warming – in the early 2030s, which will ratchet up the severity of impacts in the near future.
But it’s not too late to turn things around, the head of the IPCC told AFP, describing the report as a “message of hope”.
“We have know-how, technology, tools, financial resources – everything needed to overcome the climate problems we have known about for so long,” Hoesung Lee said in a video interview.
“What’s lacking at this point is a strong political will to resolve this issues once and for all.”
The IPCC said the world is currently set to reach 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels – the more ambitious and safer target of the Paris Agreement – in the early 2030s, which will ratchet up the severity of impacts in the near future.
“The fact that the people in power still somehow live in denial, and actively move in the wrong direction, will eventually be seen for and understood as the unprecedented betrayal it is,” climate activist Greta Thunberg told AFP.
At just under 1.2 degrees Celsius of warming so far, the world today has already seen a crescendo of deadly and destructive extreme weather. The most vulnerable populations have already been hit hard.
“The warmest years we have experienced to date will be among the coolest within a generation,” Friederike Otto, a climate scientist at Imperial College London and lead author of the report, told AFP.