The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued what has been described by its Chairman Hoesung Lee as a dire warning about the consequences of inaction. Climate Change, he said, is a grave and mounting threat to people’s well-being and a healthy planet, adding that half measures are no longer an option.
In its latest report the IPCC said that despite efforts to reduce the risk, human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature, and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world.
The report, which is a summary for policy makers of the most up-to-date scientific knowledge about climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerabilities, says the world faces unavoidable multiple climate hazards over the next two decades with global warming of 1.5C.
Even temporarily exceeding this warming level will result in additional severe impacts, some of which will be irreversible. Increased heatwaves, droughts and floods are already exceeding the tolerance thresholds of plants and animals, driving mass mortalities in species such as trees and corals.
These weather extremes it says, are occurring simultaneously, causing cascading impacts that are increasingly difficult to manage. They have exposed millions of people to acute food and water insecurity, especially in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, on Small Islands and in the Arctic.
The IPCC says that if mounting loss of life, biodiversity and infrastructure are to be avoided, then ambitious accelerated action to adapt to climate change is required now, at the same time as making rapid and deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.