Urgent action needed to stop climate change: Temperatures may rise by more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels in the next 20 years, breaching the Paris climate agreement target of keeping the rise in mean global temperature well below that mark. The rise in temperature is blamed for extreme weather conditions and devastation experienced in several parts of the world.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has called for drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the current decade to stop a climate breakdown. The panel published the sixth comprehensive assessment of climate science earlier this month. The study, authored by hundreds of environment experts, took eight years for completion. It is the updated global understanding on climate change.
Evidence linking human activity, climate change
The study proves that human activity is the cause of climate change, rise in sea level, melting polar ice, heatwaves, floods and droughts. The grim findings of the study points to the need of urgent policy measures to ensure lower carbon footprint for the global population.
Leaders of 197 countries are scheduled to meet in Glasgow for Cop26, the UN climate talks, in November. All these nations will join Cop26 with their latest plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
The current global mean temperature has risen by about 1.1C since 1900. Experts say limiting the increase in temperature to 1.5C is difficult, but possible. The heating is already causing heatwaves, storms, droughts, floods and wildfires.
Need urgent climate action
Even if the nations manage to limit global warming to 1.5C, the changes in climate that are already playing out may not be reversible. Dramatic cuts in carbon emissions may prevent further changes, say IPCC scientists.
The current report will be followed next year by two more with the next one focusing on the impact of the climate crisis and the third on solutions. Publication of the report was delayed by several months by the Covid-19 [pandemic.
The report says urgent action is the only way to avert ever-worsening impacts such as wildfires in California, Greece and Turkey, floods in Germany, China and England, and heatwaves in Canada and Siberia.
The report lays out the gravity of the situation and dismisses talk about the costs of climate action. The governments and businesses that do not act may end up facing trials, the IPCC report says. The report says all the evidence is in place now. Political leaders may face heat at the Cop26 summit in Glasgow in November.
(Sajna Nair is a former banker. She writes on environment, art and culture.)