The world’s nations can prevent the worst of the already-mounting impacts of the climate crisis by taking aggressive action to cut fossil fuel use in the next decade, UN scientists warn. “The climate time-bomb is ticking,” UN Secretary General António Guterres told reporters Monday. “But today’s IPCC report is a how-to guide to defuse the climate time-bomb. It is a survival guide for humanity.”
The aptly named Synthesis Report, or SYR, is the final report of the IPCC’s sixth report cycle and will be the last such report for several years. Humanity can prevent the most severe impacts of climate change — which are worst for those least responsible for the crisis — by slashing fossil fuel use and cutting overall greenhouse gas pollution 60% by 2035. Doing so is technically and economically feasible thanks to dramatic improvements in renewable energy and energy storage technologies.
Every Tenth Counts
“There’s clear evidence that 1.5[°C, 2.7°F] is better than 1.6[°C, 2.9°F], which is better than 1.7[°C, 3.1°F], and so on,” said Joeri Rogelj, director of research at the Grantham Institute for Climate Change and the Environment at Imperial College London, told the New York Times. “The point is we need to do everything we can to keep warming as low as possible.”
The report warns the obstacles to action are entrenched, and fossil fuel-funded, political opposition. It “is quite clear that whatever future we end up with is within our control,” Piers Forster, who helped write one of the panel’s earlier reports, told the Times. “It is up to humanity … to determine what we end up with.” (New York Times $, AP, Washington Post $, E&E News, Gizmodo, Atmos, The Guardian, Vox, ABC, The Guardian, CNN, Reuters, Grist, Climate Home, Heatmap, Inside Climate News, NBC, E&E $, Politico EU, Axios, PBS NewsHour, Climate Home, The Hill, Bloomberg $, CNBC, Context, FT $, OilPrice, Context; IPCC explainers: Inside Climate News, The Guardian explainer, Heatmap; Timeline of IPCC reports: The Guardian)