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‘Humanity is on thin ice and that ice is melting fast’

Newsman: “Urgent” actions are needed to counter human-caused climate change, says a new report released Monday by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 

The report was drafted by top climate scientists and reviewed by delegates from nearly 200 countries. The authors hope it will provide crucial guidance to politicians around the world ahead of negotiations later this year aimed at reining in climate change.

“Humanity is on thin ice — and that ice is melting fast,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said. “Our world needs climate action on all fronts — everything, everywhere, all at once.”

“Without urgent, effective, and equitable mitigation and adaptation actions, climate change increasingly threatens ecosystems, biodiversity, and the livelihoods, health and wellbeing of current and future generations,” according to the report, released Monday in Interlaken, Switzerland.

IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee said “if we act now, we can still secure a livable sustainable future for all.”

The planet faces an increasingly dire situation, according to the report. Climate change is already disrupting daily life around the world. Extreme weather, including heat waves, droughts, floods, wildfires and hurricanes, is killing and displacing people worldwide, and causing massive economic damage. And the amount of carbon dioxide accumulating in the atmosphere is still rising.

“Climate change is a threat to human well-being and planetary health,” the report states. “There is a rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a liveable and sustainable future for all.”

But there are many choices readily available to policymakers who want to address climate change, the reportsaid..

“The IPCC has shown the fossil fuel phase-out must start now, and wind, solar, and energy efficiency are the keys this decade, not fossil fuel industry-favored techno-fixes like carbon capture and storage,”  Trout said. 

The report “underlines how important it is to not only accelerate climate action but to do it in a way that helps everyone in the world, not just those in the wealthiest countries and regions,” said Christopher Trisos, a co-author and director of the Climate Risk Lab at the African Climate and Development Initiative.

This report is the culmination of an eight-year long series of climate science papers, the sixth assessment since the IPCC was established in 1988. Over the past six years, hundreds of authors in three working groups reviewed thousands of academic papers with the latest science.

Global warming “has resulted in more frequent and more intense extreme weather events that have caused increasingly dangerous impacts on nature and people in every region of the world,” the IPCC reported. “Every increment of warming results in rapidly escalating hazards. More intense heat waves ; heavier rainfall and other weather extremes further increase risks for human health and ecosystems.”

The other big takeaway from the report is that people in developing countries, and poor people around the world, are disproportionately affected by climate change.

“Vulnerable communities who have historically contributed the least to current climate change are disproportionately affected” the report states.

For example, “between 2010 and 2020, human mortality from floods, droughts and storms was 15 times higher in highly vulnerable regions, compared to regions with very low vulnerability,” the authors write.

The most vulnerable communities include people who live in low-income countries, low-lying areas and island nations, and Indigenous groups around the world, according to the report.

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