Lilongwe – A United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report says the average global temperature is likely to reach or cross the 1.5-degree Celsius warming threshold within the next 20 years, bringing stronger droughts, heatwaves, floods and storms.
The report warns that some climate trends are now irreversible, at least during the present time frame and ‘no one is safe’ from the accelerating effects and says there is an urgent need to prepare and protect people.
The report, prepared by 234 scientists from 66 countries, highlights that human influence has warmed the climate at a rate that is unprecedented in at least the last 2,000 years.
Human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe. Scientists are also observing changes across the whole of Earth’s climate system; in the atmosphere, in the oceans, ice floes, and on land.
In 2019, atmospheric carbon, methane and nitrous oxide concentrations were higher than at any time in thousands of years.
UN Secretary-General Dr António Guterres said the report was “a code red for humanity. The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable”.
He noted that the internationally-agreed threshold of 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels of global heating was perilously close and it is at an imminent risk of hitting 1.5 degrees in the near term. The only way to prevent exceeding this threshold, he said is by urgently stepping up efforts, and pursuing the most ambitious path.
According to IPCC Working Group co-chair Ms Valérie Masson-Delmotte, “It has been clear for decades that the Earth’s climate is changing, and the role of human influence on the climate system is undisputed. Yet the new report also reflects major advances in the science of attribution understanding the role of climate change in intensifying specific weather and climate events.”
Experts said there was still time to limit climate change via strong and sustained reductions in carbon dioxide.
“Stabilising the climate will require strong, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and reaching net zero CO2 emissions. Limiting other greenhouse gases and air pollutants, especially methane, could have benefits both for health and the climate,” said IPCC Working Group co-chair Panmao Zhai.