Nations vet climate solutions as world 'sleepwalks' to catastrophe

AFP

3 min read
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attends a press conference at the end of his visit to crisis-ridden Lebanon, in the capital Beirut on December 21, 2021.
ANWAR AMRO / AFPUN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres attends a press conference at the end of his visit to crisis-ridden Lebanon, in the capital Beirut on December 21, 2021.

Nearly 200 countries gather to work on next IPCC report

Nearly 200 nations gathered Monday to grapple with a question that will outlive Covid-19 and Russia's invasion of Ukraine: how does a world addicted to fossil fuels prevent carbon pollution from making Earth unlivable?

A partial answer is set for April 4, in the form of a 3,000-page report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) due to be approved after two weeks of closed-door, virtual meetings that began Monday.   

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The assessment will detail options for drawing down greenhouse gases and extracting them from the air, in an urgent effort to stop devastating warming.

"The problem is getting worse," UN chief Antonio Guterres told a separate sustainability conference in London on Monday, adding that major economies are allowing carbon pollution to increase when drastic cuts are needed.

"We are sleepwalking to climate catastrophe."

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Climate impacts "are costly and mounting, but we still have some time to close the window and get ahead of the worst of them if we act now," said Alden Meyer, a senior analyst at climate and energy think-tank E3G. 

He said the upcoming IPCC report, the last in a three-part assessment of climate change, "will supply the answers as to what we need if we're serious about getting there."

In August 2021, the IPCC laid out the physical science and projected that Earth's surface temperature will rise 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, perhaps within a decade. 

A 1.5C cap on global warming — the aspirational goal of the 2015 Paris climate accord — has been embraced as a target by most of the world's nations.

Barely 1.1C of warming so far has ushered in a crescendo of deadly extreme weather across the globe.

Recently renewed national carbon-cutting commitments, however, still put us on a catastrophic path toward 2.7C of warming by 2100.

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