The dangers that climate change is causing will overwhelm the ability of both nature and humanity to adapt, according to a major new scientific report released on Monday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) – the body of experts convened by the United Nations.
The report is written by 270 researchers from 67 countries and is the most detailed look yet at the threats posed by global warming. “I have seen many scientific reports in my time, but nothing like this,” said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres on Monday.
Among many of the conclusions drawn in the report, it points out that nations aren’t doing nearly enough to protect cities, farms and coastlines from the hazards climate change has unleashed so far. There is left to say about the even greater disasters that are in store in the near future as the planet continues to warm.
It has been estimated that in 2019, storms, floods and other extreme weather events displaced more than 13 million people across Asia and Africa. Half of the world is already facing severe water scarcity due to warmer weather and rising heat and drought are killing crops and trees, putting millions worldwide at increased risk of hunger and malnutrition.
Such events would leave the world vulnerable to migration and geopolitical shocks. Currently, many countries are spending billions of dollars each year on adaptation measures like flood barriers, air-conditioning, or early-warning systems for tropical cyclones.
However, those climate change measures are not enough to prepare the world for the more severe threats that are unavoidable like decreasing and insecure freshwater supplies or irreversible ecosystem damage. Many changes are required that are called by the report “transformational” and involve rethinking how people build homes, grow food, produce energy, and protect nature.
Many parts of the world would soon face limits in how much they can adapt to a changing environment which would cause havoc on a global scale. According to the report, adapting is “certainly a very illusionary approach.”
The report also concludes that in most regions like parts of North America, the agricultural sector will face rising levels of heat stress that will make farming increasingly difficult. “It shows that climate change is a grave and mounting threat to our wellbeing and a healthy planet. Our actions today will shape how people adapt and nature responds to increasing climate risks,” said Hoesung Lee, chair of the IPCC.
So far analysts claim that the planet has warmed 1.1 degrees compared to pre-industrial levels. As a result, the world is now losing 1.2 trillion tons of ice each year or 13% of the Arctic Ice per decade. If all of the Ice on Earth is to melt, the global sea level will rise around 70 meters and will flood every coastal city on the planet, even though there is still some uncertainty about the full volume of glaciers and ice caps on Earth.
The report gives some solutions that would avoid mounting loss of life, biodiversity and infrastructure. Accelerated action to adapt to the climate crisis must be combined with rapid and deep cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.
According to the U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, fossil fuels are a “dead end” for the planet, for humanity and for economies. He also explains that those in the private sector still financing coal “must be held to account,” while “oil and gas giants – and their underwriters – are also on notice.
It also concludes that prompt, well-managed transition to renewables is the only pathway to energy security, universal access and green high-paid jobs. Climate financing is also expected from high-income countries with the greatest historical responsibility for the climate crisis to low-income nations that are most threatened by climate change consequences.
A key part of the Paris accord was the commitment made by wealthier countries to provide low-income nations with $100 billion a year in climate finance by 2020. However, this pledge is not expected to be met until 2023.
Guterres also calls for 50% of the total share of climate finance to be spent on resilience measures and adapting to the effects of a warming world. According to IPCC Working Group II co-chair Hans-Otto Pörtner, any further delay in global action will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a liveable future.
The latest scientific IPCC report on the climate change crisis paints a dire but realistic picture of the consequences of inaction and delay of the green energy transition. Therefore, it shows the actions of politicians and parties supportive of fossil fuels development are criminal as they are responsible for human lives as a result of emissions that are currently uncontrolled and will be choking the planet for decades ahead.