The chances of avoiding the worst effects of climate change are dramatically reduced by the failure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and take the steps necessary to prevent catastrophe, reports The Guardian.
Despite increased warnings in recent years, governments and businesses are not changing fast enough, and the consequences are already being seen in more extreme weather around the world, according to a report by United in Science. Humanity risks triggering “tipping points” in the climate system, which will mean faster and in some cases irreversible changes.
The recent flood in Pakistan, which covered a third of the country with water, is an example of extreme weather conditions that destroy the entire globe. A heat wave in Europe, prolonged drought in China and the US, and near-famine in parts of Africa also show that extreme weather conditions are becoming more common.
“There is nothing natural about the new scale of these disasters. They are the price of humanity’s fossil fuel addiction. This year’s United in Science report shows climate impacts heading into uncharted territory of destruction,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.
Governments agreed to focus on keeping temperatures within the 1.5°C limit at the landmark COP26 UN climate summit in Glasgow last November, but these pledges and action to cut emissions have fallen short.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the sharp rise in gas prices have prompted some governments to return to fossil fuels, particularly coal. Guterres warned of the danger: “Every year we double down on the fossil fuel addiction, even if the symptoms are rapidly getting worse.”
Guterres condemned rich countries that promised aid to the developing world but failed to deliver. “It is a scandal that developed countries have failed to take adaptation seriously, and shrugged off their commitments to help the developing world,” he said.
Rich countries should provide $40 billion a year to help countries adapt, and increase that to $300 billion a year by 2030.
The issue of adapting to the effects of extreme weather, as well as the damage suffered by vulnerable countries, is likely to be one of the key issues at the upcoming UN COP27 climate talks in Egypt in November. Leading figures are worried about the prospects of this conference because geopolitical upheavals have threatened the fragile consensus reached in Glasgow.
Climate Action Network Executive Director Tasneem Essop believes governments should prepare for COP27 with action plans that show the urgency of the crisis.
“The terrifying picture painted by the United in Science report is already a lived reality for millions of people facing recurring climate disasters. The science is clear, yet the addiction to fossil fuels by greedy corporations and rich countries is resulting in losses and damages for communities who have done the least to cause the current climate crisis,” she said.
TThe United in Science report was coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization, and involves the UN Environment Programme, the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, the World Climate Research Programme, the Global Carbon Project, the UK’s Met Office and the Urban Climate Change Research Network.
In addition, the Oxford researchers said that shifting the global economy to a low-carbon basis would save at least $12 trillion by 2050 compared to current levels of fossil fuel use. The rise in gas prices has shown the vulnerability of the economy that depends on this fuel.