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World shudders at 'code red' UN climate report

Source:China Daily10-08-2021

By JULIAN SHEA in London  

Waves lap ashore near condo buildings on the day the United Nations released a report with a dire warning for humanity in Sunny Isles, Florida on Aug 9, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]
A long-awaited report by the United Nations-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that it is a "statement of fact" that humanity is having a damaging effect on the climate, and it is "unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, oceans and land".

The report, issued ahead of the COP26 climate change conference to take place in Glasgow later this year, was described by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as a "code red" warning for humanity about the damage it had done, and the urgent steps it needed to take to avoid making the situation even worse.

"If we combine forces now, we can avert climate catastrophe," Guterres added. "But, as today's report makes clear, there is no time for delay and no room for excuses. I count on government leaders and all stakeholders to ensure COP26 is a success."

Since 1970, the report said, global surface temperatures have risen faster than over any 50-year period in the past 2,000 years, with the results being seen in examples of extreme climate conditions, such as the bushfires raging across Greece and Turkey, and severe flooding seen in parts of Europe and China's Henan province.

The report references more than 14,000 scientific papers, with 234 authors around the world contributing, and 195 governments involved, and it uses far more direct language than the last such document, published in 2013, which said human impact on the climate system was "clear".

This time, UN Environment Program chief Inger Ansersen said: "Nobody's safe and it's getting worse faster. We must treat climate change as an immediate threat."

Petteri Taalas, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization, likened the visible impact of humanity's actions on the natural world to doping in sport.

No grounds for optimism

Moves toward net zero carbon emissions by 2050 could help stabilize rising temperatures, but report author Tamsin Edwards told Sky News that even this could not really be seen as grounds for optimism just yet.

"We're not there, and we are on higher emissions pathways at the moment that would lead to much greater climate change," she said.

Doug Parr, a climate scientist, said the recent wave of climate-related disasters was the result of previous years of inaction, and showed that this generation of world leaders was the "last that can afford to ignore" the severity of the situation.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "We know what must be done ... consign coal to history and shift to clean energy sources, protect nature and provide climate finance for countries on the frontline."

Source: China Daily

Editor Hao Jing