UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for urgent climate action after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report that asks to keep global warming by 1.5 degrees Celsius. To meet the 1.5 degrees target, rather than the 2 degrees required by the Paris Agreement, would bring about clear benefits to people and natural eco-systems, said the IPCC report.
“This report by the world’s leading climate scientists is an ear-splitting wake-up call to the world. It confirms that climate change is running faster than we are, and we are running out of time,” Guterres said on Monday in a statement, Xinhua reported. The scientists paint the most vivid picture the world has ever had between a temperature rise of 1.5 degrees versus 2 degrees, he said. “A half of degree of warming makes a world of difference.”
The less ambitious goal of two degrees means more heat waves for tens of millions of people, far greater species loss, increased water scarcity in some of the world’s most unstable regions, a ten-fold increase in Arctic ice-free summers, and a total wipe-out of the world’s coral reefs, said Guterres.
The more ambitious goal, however, will require urgent action to cut emissions by half by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050, he said. “This will take unprecedented changes in all aspects of society, especially in key sectors such as land, energy, industry, buildings, transport and cities.”
Specifically, he said, there is a need to end deforestation and plant billions of trees; drastically reduce the use of fossil fuels and phase out coal by 2050; ramp up installation of wind and solar power; invest in climate-friendly sustainable agriculture; and consider new technologies such as carbon capture and storage.
The UN Climate Conference in Katowice, Poland, in December is a can’t-fail moment. The international community must emerge with critically important implementation guidelines for operationalizing the Paris Agreement, Guterres said.
“I urge all countries to make the Katowice Climate Conference a success and heed the counsel of the world’s top scientists: raise ambition, rapidly strengthen their national climate action plans, and urgently accelerate implementation of the Paris Agreement,” said the UN chief. “We must rise to the challenge of climate action and do what science demands before it is too late,” he said.