The World’s Most Recent Climate Report Screams For Action

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We are facing a climate emergency with enormous impacts on our lives. It has reached every part of our society affecting us through natural disasters, economic and political instability, threatening our food supply, air pollution causing one in five deaths (1) and climate impacts destroying people’s livelihoods, as seen for example in Pakistan.

On Monday around 2,800 people on YouTube, more than 800 Journalists and Scientists followed a press conference that took place in a small village in the Swiss Alps. The occasion was a report launch of the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change which is the most important authority on climate science, consisting of Climate Scientists from 195 member countries (2).

These scientists gather all available climate science in order to inform decision making on climate change. In his address at the press conference the UN General Secretary Antonio Gutierrez describes the report as ‘(…) a how-to guide to defuse the climate time-bomb.’ (3). This guide can be summarised into three main points:

We have the solutions.

For decades scientists and industry experts have been gathering solutions, and the IPCC report makes it clear, that we have the tools to act against Climate Change. It proves that Fossil Fuels are the main driver of global warming, while renewable energy is the cheapest safest energy source. So instead of burning more Fossil Fuels, we should rapidly scale up on renewable energy. It means, that developed nations should aim to go carbon neutral earlier than 2050 as every fraction of limiting warming matters.

We are not going into the right direction.

Humans have permanently changed the planet, warming is already killing people, destroying nature, and it is widening inequality. Currently we are at 1.1degrees of warming and we are headed to surpass 1.5 degrees in the first half of the next decade. We can do it, but are not on track to limit warming to 1.5 or even 2.0 degrees. Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees is essential as it is a threshold of keeping most of our ecosystem stable (having coral reefs), protecting lives and in which we can still avoid many triggers (tipping points) within our ecosystem.

We need to make these decisions in the next years.

Progress has been made, but not nearly enough. Climate change affects our health, food security, water supply, nature and there is still much we can do to limit future harms. As we have the solutions, we now need to roll them out. This requires changes in societal and political will. Furthermore must work harder to adapt to the impacts that are here now and will continue to escalate. The report also clearly shows how the least responsible are impacted the most by the effects of climate changes and that climate change impacts vulnerable communities the most. As a result all climate (in-)action can either increase or decrease inequality.

This all matters because we can secure this safer and more just world. Taking Climate Action is a pathway that we can and should take now in order to to get out of this Crisis- Mode. Instead we can build a resilient and a more meaningful world. While negative impacts affect the least responsible the most, climate action can secure cleaner cities, meaningful jobs, equality within society and more, but we need to take the right steps now.

Sources

1. See https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/c-change/news/fossil-fuel-air-pollution-responsible-for-1-in-5-deaths-worldwide/?active_tab=1&articles_page=11&research_page=2

2. See https://www.ipcc.ch/about/

3. https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/un-chief-urges-faster-shift-net-zero-after-report-highlights-climate-threat-2023-03-20/

4. See https://www.instagram.com/p/CqA6uF5Neet/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

5. IPCC Press conference: https://youtu.be/bulhsb4IZFQ

6. IPCC Report: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/syr/

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