The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned that time was running out to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius and avert potential disaster.
The Panel stated that a lack of action to curb emissions was likely to lead to increasing heat waves, flooding and new risks to human life in a report issued on Sunday.
The “fifth synthesis report” stated that human influence on the climate system is clear, leading to the highest concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide in 800,000 years.
A 40-page summary of the report stated that:
Limiting climate change requires substantial and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissionsIncreasing heat waves and flooding events were likely and would “become more intense and frequent” if action wasn’t takenClimate change will amplify existing risks and create new risks for natural and human systems
The report stated that “substantial emissions reductions” over the next few decades could reduce climate risks in the 21st century and beyond.
“Without additional mitigation efforts beyond those in place today, and even with adaptation, warming by the end of the 21st century will lead to high to very high risk of severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts globally,” it read.
“Mitigation involves some level of co-benefits and of risks due to adverse side-effects, but these risks do not involve the same possibility of severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts as risks from climate change, increasing the benefits from near-term mitigation efforts.”
UN chief Ban Ki-moon, who in September hosted a special summit on climate change, said that “human influence on the climate system is clear, and clearly growing.”
“We must act quickly and decisively if we want to avoid increasingly disruptive outcomes,” Ban said, describing it as a “myth” that tackling carbon emissions was costly.
US Secretary of State John Kerry said the report was a fresh warning – “another canary in the coal mine” – while France, which is to host a UN 2015 climate conference, called for “immediate, all-round mobilisation”.
The report comes less than a week after the Abbott Government passed its $2.55 billion Direct Action climate policy.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt has pledged to examine emissions trading schemes, but has ruled out adopting any such scheme.
More to come.