They warn that the burning of fossil fuels exacerbates the climate crisis and is responsible for a rise of 1.1ºC above pre-industrial levels. To limit warming to 1.5°C, strong and rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions must be achieved across all sectors.
There are several viable and effective options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to human-induced climate change that are currently available, according to the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) , published this Monday.
“Integrating effective and equitable climate action will not only reduce loss and damage to nature and people, but will also bring greater benefits.”, said Hoesung Lee, chairman of the IPCC. “The Synthesis Report highlights the urgency of more ambitious actions and shows that acting now can still guarantee a sustainable and livable future for all”.
In 2018, the IPCC highlighted the unprecedented scale of the challenge of limiting warming to 1.5°C. Five years later, the challenge is even greater due to the steady increase in greenhouse gas emissions. The pace and scale of measures taken so far, as well as current plans, are insufficient to tackle climate change.
Burning fossil fuels and using energy
The burning of fossil fuels and the uneven and unsustainable use of energy and land for over a century has led to global warming of 1.1°C above pre-industrial levels. As a result, more frequent and intense extreme weather events have occurred, generating increasingly dangerous impacts on nature and people in all regions of the world.
Every increase in warming translates into rapidly worsening hazards. Increased heat waves, more intense rainfall and other extreme weather events exacerbate risks to human health and ecosystems. In all regions, extreme heat is killing people. Climate-related food insecurity and water insecurity are predicted to increase due to increased warming. When risks are combined with other adverse events, such as pandemics or conflicts, they become even more difficult to control.
Loss and damage at the forefront of the climate crisis
The report, adopted during a week-long meeting in Interlaken, Switzerland, highlights the loss and damage that has already occurred and will continue in the future, particularly affecting individuals and properties, the most vulnerable ecosystems. Taking the right action today can lead to transformative changes essential to achieving a sustainable and equitable world.
“Climate justice is crucial because those who have contributed least to climate change are disproportionately affected.”, explained Aditi Mukherji, one of the 93 authors of the Synthesis Report, the final chapter of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report.
“Almost half of the world’s population lives in regions that are highly vulnerable to climate change. In the last decade, the number of deaths from floods, droughts and storms was 15 times higher in highly vulnerable regionsadded Mukherji.
In this decade, accelerated climate change adaptation action is essential to close the gap between current adaptation measures and those that are needed. Furthermore, to limit warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, drastic, rapid and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are needed across all sectors. These should already have declined and will need to be reduced by almost half by 2030 if warming is limited to 1.5°C and the climate crisis contained.
A clear path to contain the climate crisis
The solution lies in climate resilient development. This implies integrating climate change adaptation measures with actions aimed at reducing or avoiding greenhouse gas emissions, so that they provide greater benefits.
For example, access to clean energy and technologies improves health, especially in the case of women and children; low-carbon electrification, walking and cycling, and public transport improve air quality, health, and employment opportunities while promoting equity. The economic benefits to human health from improving air quality alone would be approximately equal to or perhaps even greater than the costs of reducing or avoiding emissions.
Climate resilient development becomes increasingly difficult with each increase in warming and the climate crisis. Therefore, the decisions taken in the coming years will be fundamental in determining our future and that of future generations.
For these decisions to be effective, they must be based on diverse values, opinions and knowledge, including scientific, indigenous and local. This approach will facilitate climate resilient development and generate solutions that are both locally appropriate and socially acceptable.
“The greatest welfare gains could be achieved by prioritizing climate risk reduction in low-income and marginalized communities, including people living in informal settlements”, expressed Christopher Trisos, one of the authors of the report. “Accelerated climate action will only come to fruition if funding is significantly increased. Insufficient and misallocated funding slows down progress”.
Facilitating sustainable development
There is enough capital in the world to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions to stem the climate crisis if existing barriers are lowered. To achieve climate goals on a global scale, it is important to increase investments in the climate sphere. Governments, through public funding, are key to reducing these barriers. Investors, central banks and financial regulators can also contribute in this regard.
Proven policy measures exist that can help achieve dramatic emission reductions and increase climate resilience if scaled up and applied more widely. Political commitment, coordinated policies, international cooperation, ecosystem stewardship and inclusive governance are important to enable effective and equitable climate action.
By sharing the right technologies, expertise and policy measures, and providing sufficient funding immediately, every community can reduce high-carbon consumption. At the same time, with considerable investment, it is possible to avoid increased risks, especially for vulnerable groups and regions.
Climate, ecosystems and society are interconnected
Climate, ecosystems and society are intertwined. Efficiently and equitably conserving 30-50% of Earth’s land, marine and freshwater resources will help ensure the health of the planet. Urban areas offer an opportunity on a global scale to promote ambitious climate action that contributes to sustainable development.
Through changes in food, electricity, transport, industry, buildings and land use, greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced. At the same time, these changes can help people lead a low-carbon lifestyle, which will also promote better health and well-being. With greater knowledge of the consequences of excessive drinking, people can make more informed decisions.
“Transformational change is more likely to thrive when there is trust, when everyone collaborates to prioritize risk reduction, and when benefits and burdens are shared fairly.Lee maintained. “We live in a diverse world where each person has different responsibilities and different opportunities to create change. Some people can make a big contribution, while others will need support to manage the change.”