We're running out of time, not options, to address climate change - Report

Climate change

A section of researchers hold a press conference in The Hague, on the new report of the UN climate panel IPCC, on March 20, 2023.  The provisional latest report on climate change and its consequences is being published from Interlaken, Switzerland. 

Photo credit: AFP

A final instalment of a major global scientific report on climate change asks governments to fact-track climate action by implementing available options that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The fourth part of the Sixth Assessment report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was released on Tuesday highlighting feasible solutions to be embraced in order to adapt to human-led climate change.

The report was written by the world's top climate scientists and its capstone was approved during a week-long meeting in Interlaken, Switzerland.

In a press briefing Tuesday evening, Hoesung Lee, IPCC chair, reminded governments that mainstreaming effective and equitable climate action will not only reduce losses and damages for nature and people, it will also provide wider benefits.

“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 Lee.

They now advise that changes in our food sector, electricity, transport, industry, buildings and land -use will be crucial in reducing emissions.

“Transformational changes are more likely to succeed where there is trust, where everyone works together to prioritise risk reduction, and where benefits and burdens are shared equitably,” Lee said.

Despite world leaders agreeing to limit warming levels to below 1.5 degrees Celsius during the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) that happened in Paris, there is little effort by the government to ensure fossil fuel production is phased down.

Already, the world’s warming levels have shot up to about 1.1 degrees Celsius.

Three prior special reports from the sixth assessment warned that human activities played a major part in destroying our planet and also highlighted the impact the damage has had so far.

The new report now offers solutions and provides a summary to policy makers who are to implement some of the ideas recommended by the scientists.

The scientists have also brought to the fore Loss and Damage, which was one of the major outcomes of 27th Conference of Parties (COP27) suggesting that taking the right action now could result in the transformational change essential for a sustainable, equitable world.

“Climate justice is crucial because those who have contributed least to climate change are being disproportionately affected,” said Audit Mukherji, one of the 93 authors of this Synthesis Report.

“Almost half of the world’s population lives in regions that are highly vulnerable to climate change. In the last decade, deaths from floods, droughts and storms were 15 times higher in highly vulnerable regions, “she added.

A global coalition of health professionals weighed in on the loss and damage issue and asked governments to invest in and bolster climate adaptation. The drum up support for the phase out of fossil fuels which will play a major role of reducing greenhouse gas emissions

“There is a critical need to prepare communities around the world with adaptation measures to better manage coming climate impacts; and first and foremost, the urgent need to mitigate climate change by making strong commitments this year to a rapid and just phase out all fossil fuels, ” said Dr Jeni Miller, Executive Director of the Global Climate and Health Alliance.

“In addition, because governments have failed to prevent the harms to human health and wellbeing that are already occurring, the level of care and preparation must be stepped up, with significant investments in adaptation, resilience, and loss and damage,

Mohamed Adow, Power Shift Director told the Nation yesterday that the latest report is a wakeup call to Africa and the world.

“This announcement from the IPCC is important for the whole world but nowhere is it more important than for Africa, which is on the frontline of the climate crisis,” he said.

“Africans are experiencing the worst impacts of climate breakdown, from floods, storms and droughts, like the one that is killing people in East Africa. But it is clear that without rapid action this suffering will increase.

Just like the report, he says that despite being adversely affected by the climate crisis, there is hope because Africa has resources that can generate clean energy and the opportunity to decarbonise our sources of energy.

“What we need now is to see this harnessed at greater speed and scale to usher in a secure and prosperous future for us all,” he added.

The next IPCC report will come out in the year 2030.