UN secretary General says latest IPCC report is a how-to guide to defuse the climate time-bomb.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ( IPCC) released its Sixth Synthesis Report, in Interlaken, Switzerland on Monday March 20, 2023 that warned of a global warming time bomb that could explode anytime if those concerned fail to mitigate climate change.
The eight-yearly report of the most authoritative scientific panel involved 234 experts in climate change physics, 270 impact, adaptation and climate change vulnerability scientists, and 278 climate change mitigation scientists.
It noted that in the 2011-2022 global surface temperatures had exceeded pre-industrial level by 1.1°C, the highest increase in the past 2,000 years.
Scientists also found that in 2019 the CO2 content in the atmosphere was at the highest in two million years while the concentration of methane and Nitrate Oxide were at their highest in 800,000 years.
Those findings showed that global efforts to date have been insufficient in tackling climate change. If the world wants to curb the rise in temperature to 1.5°C, then emissions today should have already been reduced and cut by almost half by 2030.
“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,” said IPCC Chair, Lee Hoesung.
The consequences of rising temperatures, he said, carries risks such as more frequent extreme climates, more intense heat waves, heavier rains, and other extreme climates that would increase the health risks for humans and the ecosystem.
Rising temperatures would also cause fatalities due to extreme heat, and both food and water scarcity. Lee estimated that those risks would be even more difficult to manage if they were exacerbated by other adverse events such as pandemics or conflicts.
Aditi Mukherji, one of the 93 writers of the report, added that in the past decade, deaths from floods, droughts, and storms are potentially 15 times higher in areas that are most vulnerable, areas that ironically, are home to almost half of the world’s population.
Manual to defuse the bomb
Despite the alarming rise in earth’s temperature, scientists said that there are a number of viable and effective options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.
One of the efforts to reduce global warming is by cutting emissions in phases. For CO2, IPCC targets a 48 percent cut by 2030, then a 65 percent cut by 2035, and an 80 percent reduction in 2040. By 2050, all countries must have reduced their CO2 emission by up to 99 percent.
They believe these targets can be achieved by implementing climate-resilient development that integrates adaptation and actions to reduce greenhouse gases such as access to clean energy, low-carbon electrification, walking, cycling, and the use of public transportation.
Increased finance for climate investments is seen as critical to achieving global climate goals. Collaboration between governments, through public finance and clear signals to investors, central banks and financial regulators plays an important role.
“The climate time-bomb is ticking. But today’s IPCC report is a how-to guide to defuse the climate time-bomb. It is a survival guide for humanity,” said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, adding that the report shows the 1.5°C limit is achievable, but it will take a quantum leap in climate action.a
The secretary general says that he has proposed a Climate Solidarity Pact for G20 member countries in which all big emitters make extra efforts to cut emissions and wealthier countries mobilize financial and technical resources to support emerging economies in a common effort to keep the goal of 1.5°C alive.
Gueterres has proposed a Climate Solidarity Pact to G20 member countries. The pact is expected to encourage all major emitters to make extra efforts in cutting emissions, and rich countries to mobilize financial resources to support developing countries in efforts to reduce emissions.
The secretary general adds that he is counting on all G20 leaders to have committed ambitious new economic-wide NDCs covering all greenhouse gases and absolute emission reduction targets for 2035 and 2040, by the end of COP28.
The new climate plan should reflect the acceleration needed over this decade and beyond. “We have never been better equipped to solve the climate challenge, but we must move into warp speed climate action now. We don’t have a moment to lose,” said Gueterres.
The accelerated agenda calls for actions such as phasing out the coal industry by 2030 in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries, followed by all other countries in 2040.
Guterres also stressed the importance of halting all permits and financing of oil and gas in line with the findings of the International Energy Agency, and set the global reduction targets for oil and gas production in line with the global net-zero goals for 2050.
In return, countries are required to shift subsidies from fossil fuels to a just energy transition. At the same time, ensure the operation of net-zero emission power plants by 2035 for all developed countries, and 2040 for the rest of the world.