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Code Red

A report from the scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that global warming is dangerously close to spiraling out of control and that the world is already certain to face further climate disruptions for decades, if not centuries to come.

The report also puts blame “unequivocally” on humans. It adds that while rapid action to cut greenhouse gas emissions could limit some impacts, others are now locked in. The deadly heat waves, gargantuan hurricanes and other weather extremes that are already happening will only become more severe, it said.

Drawing on more than 14,000 scientific studies, the IPCC report gives the most comprehensive and detailed picture yet of how climate change is altering the natural world – and what could still be ahead.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres described the report as a “code red for humanity.”

“The alarm bells are deafening,” he said in a statement. “This report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet.”

Unless immediate, rapid and large scale action is taken to reduce emissions, the report says, the average global temperature is likely to reach or cross the 1.5 degree Celsius warming threshold within 20 years. The pledges to cut emissions made so far are nowhere near enough to start reducing the level of greenhouse gases – mostly carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels – accumulated in the atmosphere.

In three months, the UN COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, will try to wring much more ambitious climate action out of the nations of the world, and the money to go with it.

The report warns that the world is running out of time. If we continue our current trajectory, the planet’s average temperatures could be up 2.0C by 2060. Even if emissions are successfully slashed in the next decade, Earth could still be warmer by 1.5C by 2040 and possibly 1.6C by 2060 before stabilizing.

A rise of 1.5C is generally seen as the most that humanity could cope with without suffering widespread economic and social upheaval.

We have been putting off our commitment to climate action for far too long. The more we do nothing, or not enough now, the worse it will get for future generations. Scientists have nothing to gain from sounding the alarm but our children have so much more to lose if they are right. The clarion call has been rung and we need to respond and do our share if we are to make a contribution in stopping the planet from spiraling out of control and ruining the future of generations to come.*

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