Livable future possible if drastic action taken this decade: IPCC report

The world is very likely to miss the most important climate target of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, IPCC report said

Representative image
Representative image


The world is very likely to miss the most important climate target of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels but drastic and urgent action in this decade can prevent it, a UN panel on climate change said in a report on Monday.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) Synthesis Report is a summary of all the reports it produced since 2015 on the reasons and consequences of global temperature rise due to anthropogenic emissions.

Releasing the report, the body of the world's leading climate scientists said keeping warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels requires deep, rapid and sustained greenhouse gas emissions reductions in all sectors.

"The 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," IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee said.

Approved during a week-long session in Interlaken, Switzerland, the report underlined that the "10 per cent of households with the highest emissions per person contribute 34–45 per cent of all household emissions, while the bottom 50 per cent contribute just 13 to 15 per cent." India has been emphasizing the importance of mindful and deliberate utilisation of natural resources against mindless and wasteful consumption.

"So from that point of view, status consumption and consumption inequity need to be addressed through policy, infrastructure and technology access is a major message from the report. It is just not talking about the bottom 25 per cent of people globally, but it is also talking about the top 10 per cent of the households globally who have disproportionate consumption and contribution to the emissions.

"I think these are extremely important messages which have come out as few of the top messages in this Synthesis Report," said Prof Joyashree Roy, Energy Economics programme, Asian Institute of Technology, and one of the authors of the report.

The report stressed that fossil fuel use is overwhelmingly driving global warming. In 2019, around 79 per cent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions came from energy, industry, transport and buildings, and 22 per cent came from agriculture, forestry and other land use.

"The report brings in to sharp focus the losses and damages we are already experiencing and will continue into the future, hitting the most vulnerable people and ecosystems especially hard," the IPCC said in a statement.

Taking the right action now could result in the transformational change essential for a sustainable, equitable world, it said.

"Climate justice is crucial because those who have contributed least to climate change are being disproportionately affected," said Aditi Mukherji, one of the 93 authors of the Synthesis Report, the closing chapter of the Panel's sixth assessment.

"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.

Emissions should be decreasing by now and will need to be cut by almost half by 2030, if warming is to be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the IPCC said.

Around 3.3-3.6 billion people are highly vulnerable to climate change. They are 15 times more likely to die from floods, droughts and storms.

Some ecosystems are getting close to a point of no return, caused by impacts such as glacier retreat and arctic permafrost thaw, the report said.

Climate change has reduced food security and affected water security, and extreme heat events are driving up death rates and disease. Increasing temperatures, trauma from extreme events and losses of livelihoods and culture are leading to mental health challenges, it said.

"In this report, we talk of loss and damages to biodiversity, livelihood, water security, energy security etc. So it must be every country's priority to minimize the loss and damage to this. It is especially important for India as we have a large number of vulnerable populations, low-income groups, informal settlements in urban cities, and outdoor workers," Roy said. 

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