HomeScience & TechCarbon dioxide concentrations are the highest in at least 2 million years

Carbon dioxide concentrations are the highest in at least 2 million years

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that a “climate time bomb is ticking” as he called on rich countries to cut emissions earlier on Monday after a new assessment from scientists said there is not much time left to fight climate change.

He says “The rate of temperature increase over the past half-century is the highest in 2,000 years, Carbon dioxide concentrations are highest in at least 2 million years. Climate time bomb ticking.”

In a recorded speech, Guterres described the sixth “Synthesis Report” of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as a “manual for human survival” and called on developed countries to commit to achieving net zero emissions by an earlier date around 2040.

The Synthesis Report summarized findings from three peer reviews published between 2021 and 2022 that looked at the physical science, impacts and mitigation of climate change. The summary report is designed to provide a clear picture for policy makers considering further measures to reduce emissions.

US climate envoy John Kerry says “We have the tools to avert and reduce the risks of the worst impacts of the climate crisis, but we must seize this moment and act now”. The 37-page report was distilled from thousands of pages of previous assessments after a week of deliberations in Interlaken, Switzerland.

The document will also guide a “resulting inventory” of global climate change due this year, in which countries will assess progress. Under the 2015 Paris Agreement, countries are also expected to update their climate commitments by 2025.

According to the IPCC, emissions must be halved by the mid-2030s if the world is to have any chance of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels – a key target enshrined in the Paris Agreement .

“If we act now, we can still ensure a sustainable future for all,” said IPCC Chairman Hoesung Lee.

On current trajectories, the planet is on track to warm by 3.2°C by the end of the century, and temperatures could still rise by at least 2.2°C even if existing commitments are met. Average temperatures are already 1.1°C higher than 1850-1900 levels, causing more extreme climate events around the world.

“According to very experienced colleagues at the IPCC, we’re in a proverbial creek – that’s really the key message of the report,” said synthesis report co-author Frank Jotzo of the Australian National University.

Observers said the main areas of contention included language around finance and the projected impacts of climate change, as well as the issue of “fairness” and climate justice for poorer countries. Some governments also wanted to put more emphasis on their own favored climate solutions, including solar power or carbon capture.

The IPCC says the world must accelerate the transition to green energy and transform agriculture and eating habits if it is to have any chance of making the necessary emissions reductions.

It also warned of more extreme weather, rapidly rising sea levels, melting Arctic ice and the increasing likelihood of catastrophic and irreversible “tipping points”. They also said that nearly half of the world’s population is already vulnerable to climate impacts. “In short, our world needs climate action on all fronts – everything, everywhere, at once,” Guterres said.

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