It’s not too late to avert climate change catastrophe: UN report

In 12 years, Earth will face extreme drought, food shortages and flooding unless massive efforts are made to cut greenhouse gas emissions, a new United Nations report has said.

But leaders in politics and business can prevent them if they have the will to generate billions of dollars and frame policies needed to make “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented” transition to green economy.

To bring about this transition, governments must ban fossil fuels like coal and promote transport system powered by renewable electricity, more efficient use of agricultural lands, energy efficient buildings and cities and change in lifestyles where people consume and waste less, the report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said on Monday.

The Earth’s surface, which has already warmed by 1 degree Celsius, could see a further 1.5 degree Celsius jump between 2030 and 2052, the report said citing scientists.

The effects of a 1-degree change in global warming are already reflected in extreme weather, rising sea levels, and diminishing ice in the Arctic.

The report comes two months before the next UN climate conference in Katowice, Poland.

To keep global warming below 1.5 degree cap, the world must become carbon neutral by 2050. Any additional carbon dioxide emissions would require removal of harmful gas from the air.

If governments ignore the warning signs, global warming could reach up to 3 or 4 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

There will be more frequent extreme droughts and deadly hurricanes. As much as 90% of coral reefs will die.

The next few years are probably the most important in human history, IPCC co-chair Debra Roberts, told AFP.

Efforts to curb climate change must extend beyond the 2015 Paris Agreement reached among 197 countries.

Sadly, the US, the world’s second-biggest emitter of carbon dioxide after China, pulled out of the deal in 2017.

Now pro-Paris deal nations are involved in fossil fuel extraction that runs against the spirit of their commitments. Britain is pushing ahead with gas fracking, Norway with oil exploration in the Arctic, and the German government wants to tear down Hambach forest to dig for coal, the report said.