Limiting global warming to 1.5 or two degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels has become an “even greater” challenge due to “continued increase in greenhouse gas emissions,” a new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns. The IPCC said the current plans put forth by the world’s governments and corporations are “insufficient to tackle climate change” but that all the tools and strategies we need to do so are currently available.
Since 2018 and the Paris Climate Agreement, the IPCC and Paris signatories have targeted 1.5 or two degrees Celsius as the peak warming to prevent extreme threats to life on Earth. But the IPCC’s latest report, known as the sixth assessment report or AR6, concluded that the target is even more difficult to reach now than it was in 2018 due to continued rising greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, global warming has risen to 1.1 degrees above pre-industrial levels, which has already resulted in more frequent and more intense extreme weather around the world. Extreme weather combined with food and water insecurity driven by climate change along with pandemics and human-driven conflicts make the risks “even more difficult to manage,” the report warns.
The report puts special emphasis on an equitable transition, because the biggest gains in well-being could come from prioritizing those at greatest risk to climate change, such as people living in “informal settlements,” according to an IPCC author Christopher Trisos. But he warned that “insufficient and misaligned finance” is holding back progress for those people. In the last decade, deaths from floods, droughts, and storms were 15 times higher in regions vulnerable to climate change, IPCC author Aditi Mukherji said.
To still hit the 1.5 degrees target, “deep, rapid and sustained greenhouse gas emissions reductions in all sectors” will be required, likely immediately, including in the food sector, electricity, transportation, industry, buildings, and land-use. The report calls these measures “tried and tested policy measures” that can work if they are “scaled up and applied more widely” using existing access to global financial capital. The report calls for political commitment and coordination across governments, because addressing climate change will only get harder the longer we wait.
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.”
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