IPCC report indicates dire urgency to avoid climate disaster
Climate scientists are issuing what appears to be a final warning regarding greenhouse gas emissions.
Experts have issued a dire warning that the only way to avoid the worst ramifications of a climate disaster is through a "now or never" rush to a low-carbon economy and culture.
Flood, fire, and drought caused by climate change might consume a large portion of the US government budget each year by the end of the century, according to the White House in its first-ever report released on Sunday.
Last year, a record heatwave and dryness in the US West sparked two major wildfires that ripped through California and Oregon, becoming the largest in both states' history.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2025 and can be roughly cut in half this decade to give the world a chance of reducing future warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels.
The eventual cost will be small, amounting to only a few percent of global GDP by mid-century, despite the huge effort required by governments, enterprises, and people.
Read more: Countries with the highest annual CO2 emissions per capita
However, the possibilities were slim, and the world was failing to make the necessary reforms, according to a group of the world's greatest climate experts. Temperatures will rise over 3 degrees Celsius, with disastrous repercussions, unless policies and activities are rapidly tightened.
-Key findings in the report include the phasing out of coal if the world is to stay within 1.5C.
-Methane emissions, must be reduced by a third.
-Growing trees, although vital, is not a sufficient way to compensate for prolonged fossil fuel emissions.
-Investment in the transition to a low-carbon future is around six times lower than it should be.
-All areas of the global economy, from energy and transportation to buildings and food, must change radically and quickly, necessitating the development of new technologies such as hydrogen fuel and carbon capture and storage.
Now or never
According to Jim Skea, a professor at Imperial College London and co-chair of the group behind the report, "It is now or never." He warned that without "immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible."
The study released on Monday was the third and last phase of the IPCC's most recent comprehensive review of climate science, which drew on the work of thousands of scientists. Because IPCC assessments take around seven years to complete, this might be the final warning before the world is irreversibly put on a course to climatic collapse.
Though the study concluded that rising temperatures were now "almost inevitable," the IPCC stated that temperatures might be brought back down below the crucial level by the end of the century. However, doing so may need technology to extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which activists cautioned was untested and could not be used in place of immediate severe emissions cuts.
The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres accused some governments and establishments of "lying" while they claim to be on track for 1.5C.
“Some government and business leaders are saying one thing – but doing another. Simply put, they are lying. And the results will be catastrophic," he declared.
Soaring energy prices, as well as the conflict in Ukraine, have led governments to reconsider their energy policy. Many nations, notably the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union, are considering expanding their use of fossil fuels as part of their response, but the IPCC report made it plain that doing so would put the 1.5C objective out of reach.
“Inflation is rising, and the war in Ukraine is causing food and energy prices to skyrocket. But increasing fossil fuel production will only make matters worse," said Guterres.
John Kerry, the US presidential envoy for climate, described the report as a "defining moment" for the planet.
“The report tells us that we are currently falling short in our battle to avoid the worst consequences of the climate crisis and mobilise the urgent global action needed. But importantly, the report also tells us we have the tools we need to reach our goals, cut greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, reach net zero by 2050, and secure a healthier, cleaner planet,” he said.
A decade to get on track
According to Pete Smith, a soils and global change professor at Aberdeen University, " The time of reckoning is now. We have one decade to get on track. We use fossil fuels in all these things that we need to change."
Catherine Mitchell, a professor emerita of energy policy at Exeter University emphasized the need for poorer countries to have social justice in order to make the required changes.
“Unless we have social justice, there are not going to be more accelerated greenhouse gas reductions. These issues are tied together.”
Last month, the chairman of the International Renewable Energy Agency warned that the world must take "radical action" to transition away from fossil fuels, including investing $5.7 trillion annually in solar,wind, and other types of clean electricity this decade.