Climate Armageddon is just around the corner, the United Nations said Monday in its starkest warning yet about environmental destruction — but it’s not too late to stave it off, the body added.
“Humanity is on thin ice — and that ice is melting fast,” said U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in remarks at the launch of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “Our world needs climate action on all fronts — everything, everywhere, all at once.” The report, released Monday in Switzerland after a week of talks among delegates from 195 countries , also addressed climate justice.
“Without urgent, effective, and equitable mitigation and adaptation actions, climate change increasingly threatens ecosystems, biodiversity, and the livelihoods, health and well being of current and future generations,” the report’s authors wrote .In the past 50 years, global temperature has risen at its highest rate in 2,000 years, Guterres noted.
“The climate time-bomb is ticking,” he said, calling the report “a how-to guide to defuse the climate time-bomb” and a “survival guide for humanity.” Guterres also called for achieving “net-zero” emissions in 2040 and 2050 for rich and developing nations, respectively — about a decade sooner than previous exhortations. This is what’s necessary to limit global warming to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above preindustrial temperatures by the early 2030s, the IPCC report said. Under the Paris climate agreement, countries have pledged to take concrete steps to reduce pollution by 2035. Sticking to that hinges on slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 60% below 2019 levels before 2035, the IPCC said. On the ground, that translates into ceasing exploration for new fossil fuels, and for the biggest consumers — the world’s richest countries — to stop using coal, oil and gas by 2040. “Climate justice is crucial because those who have contributed least to climate change are being disproportionately affected,” said Aditi Mukherji, a water scientist and one of the 93 authors of the report. “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.” But humanity is heading in the wrong direction, the experts said.