Monday, June 17, 2024

‘The Time Bomb Is Ticking’: IPCC Issues Its Most Urgent Climate Warning Yet


The most recent Synthesis Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the agency’s latest to highlight the urgent need for immediate action to combat climate change.

The new report synthesizes a number of other recent reports on climate change and shows a grim outlook if action isn’t taken.

“The climate time-bomb is ticking,” António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said in a statement to mark the launch of the Synthesis Report. “Humanity is on thin ice – and that ice is melting fast,” he added.

According to the report, multiple options are available for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the changes brought on by human activities. But the pace and scale of current plans to tackle climate change are insufficient, the report says. The challenge to keep warming to no more than 1.5°C has become even greater, and every increment of warming results in rapidly escalating hazards. Climate-driven food and water insecurity are also expected to increase with increased warming.

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The IPCC is urging global leaders to take climate action. Photo courtesy Jay Mantri | Unsplash

“Mainstreaming effective and equitable climate action will not only reduce losses and damages for
nature and people, it will also provide wider benefits,” IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee, said in a statement. “This Synthesis Report underscores the urgency of taking more ambitious action and shows that, if we act now, we can still secure a liveable sustainable future for all.”

The IPCC report brings into sharp focus the losses and damages already experienced due to climate change, hitting the most vulnerable people and ecosystems especially hard. According to Aditi Mukherji, one of the 93 authors of the report, “Climate justice is crucial because those who have contributed least to climate change are being disproportionately affected.”

The report reveals that almost half of the world’s population lives in regions that are highly vulnerable to climate change. In the last decade, deaths from floods, droughts, and storms were 15 times higher in highly vulnerable regions.

The IPCC report highlights that the solution lies in climate-resilient development, which involves integrating measures to adapt to climate change with actions to reduce or avoid greenhouse gas emissions. The report emphasizes that climate-resilient development becomes progressively more challenging with every increment of warming. Therefore, the choices made in the next few years will play a critical role in deciding our future and that of generations to come.

“The greatest gains in wellbeing could come from prioritizing climate risk reduction for low-income
and marginalised communities, including people living in informal settlements,” said Christopher
Trisos, one of the report’s authors. “Accelerated climate action will only come about if there is a
many-fold increase in finance. Insufficient and misaligned finance is holding back progress.”

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When will funds for clean energy surpass that of fossil fuels? Courtesy Appolinary Kalashnikova | Unsplash

To achieve global climate goals, there is sufficient global capital to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions if existing barriers are reduced. Governments, through public funding and clear signals to investors, are key in reducing these barriers. Investors, central banks, and financial regulators can also play their part.

It called for shifts away from fossil fuels and investments into renewable energy as emissions must fall by 60 percent by 2035 compared with 2019, to avert climate disasters.

The report called for carbon removal efforts such as “direct air capture” which removes carbon directly from the air and can include storing it underground.

The IPCC report also emphasizes that effective and equitable conservation of approximately 30 to 50 percent of the Earth’s land, freshwater, and ocean will help ensure a healthy planet. Urban areas offer a global-scale opportunity for ambitious climate action that contributes to sustainable development. The report highlights that climate, ecosystems, and society are interconnected, and inclusive governance is essential for effective and equitable climate action.

Guterres urged world leaders to fast-track climate action.

“Today’s IPCC report is a how-to guide to defuse the climate time-bomb,” Guterres said. “But it will take a quantum leap in climate action.”

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