UN report says humans changing climate at ‘unprecedented’ rate

Humanity will experience more extreme weather in the coming years and it will suffer the consequences of rising sea levels and melting Arctic ice, scientists working from across the globe said in a crucial UN climate report.

The alarming report by a UN scientific panel, released on Monday, called changes to the climate “unprecedented”, added that it is “unequivocal” that humans are to blame, and laid out the case for drastic cuts to emissions in order to hold the global temperature to under the limits set by the 2015 Paris Agreement.

“The scale of recent changes across the climate system as a whole and the present state of many aspects of the climate system are unprecedented over many centuries to many thousands of years,” said the report issued by the Geneva-based Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Earth’s average surface temperature is projected to hit 1.5C (2.7F) or 1.6C (2.9F) above pre-industrial levels around 2030 in all five of the greenhouse gas emissions scenarios  – ranging from highly optimistic to reckless – considered by the report.

That is a full 10 years earlier than the IPCC predicted just three years ago.

By mid-century, the 1.5C (2.7F) threshold will have been breached across the board, by a tenth of a degree along the most ambitious pathway and by nearly a full degree at the opposite extreme.

The report was compiled by 234 experts from 66 countries and is the most comprehensive to be released by the UN panel since 2013.


UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the IPCC’s assessment “code red for humanity”.

“This report must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet,” he said in a statement. “Countries should also end all new fossil fuel exploration and production and shift fossil fuel subsidies into renewable energy.”

Since about 1960, forests, soil and oceans have absorbed 56 percent of all the carbon dioxide humanity has chucked into the atmosphere – even as those emissions have increased by half.

Without nature’s help, Earth would already be a much hotter and less hospitable place.

Global oceans have risen about 20cm (eight inches) since 1900 and the rate of increase has nearly tripled in the last 10 years.

Crumbling and melting ice sheets atop Antarctica, especially Greenland, have replaced glacier melt as the main driver.

If global warming is capped at 2C (3.6F), the ocean watermark will go up about half a metre over the 21st century. It will continue rising to nearly two metres by 2300 – twice the amount predicted by the IPCC in 2019.

Related Articles

Back to top button