IEMA CEO, Sarah Mukherjee MBE, has described today's report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as a "stark reminder" of the significant threat that climate change poses to civilisation as we know it.
The report highlights how the world faces “unavoidable” multiple climate hazards over the next two decades. Even temporarily exceeding 1.5°C of global warming will result in additional severe impacts, some of which will be “irreversible”.
It warns that increased heatwaves, droughts and floods are already exceeding plants’ and animals’ tolerance thresholds, driving mass mortalities in species such as trees and corals.
Furthermore, these weather extremes are occurring simultaneously, causing cascading impacts that are increasingly difficult to manage, and exposing millions of people to acute food and water insecurity in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, on small islands and in the Arctic.
The report reiterates previous warnings of a “narrowing window” for climate action, and calls for greater funding, technology transfer, political commitment and partnership to ensure more effective adaptation and emissions reductions worldwide.
Mukherjee said: “This report is a stark reminder that human-induced climate change is very real and a significant threat to civilisation as we know it.
“Our organisation, IEMA, represents over 18,000 professionals working in environment and sustainability roles and they have been warning us about a climate disaster for years.
“We need to rapidly accelerate the net-zero transition for the whole economy, and urgently deploy green skills to make every job greener in order to adapt and make changes to protect our climate, biodiversity and natural environment upon which we all depend.
“This latest IPCC report is yet another warning that we are running out of time.”
The Working Group II report is the second instalment of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report, which will be completed this year.
It has a particular focus on cities – where more than half the world's population lives – and provides a detailed assessment of climate change impacts, risks and adaptation measures needed in these areas.
The report also has a focus on nature, and provides new insights into nature’s potential to reduce climate risks and improve people’s lives. Involving everyone in planning, attention to equity and justice, and drawing on Indigenous and local knowledge, are among the key recommendations.
Sir David King, chair of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group, and previously the UK government’s chief scientific advisor, commended the report's authors, but said that a “blind spot” remains when discussing the climate beyond 2100
“While reducing emissions of CO2 deeply, rapidly and in an ordered manner fair to all is critical, repairing the climate is now also of utmost priority,” he explained.
“We must immediately begin removing excess greenhouse gases from the atmosphere at scale, while we buy time by rapidly researching ways to protect the ice caps, and complete an ordered transition to a fossil fuel-free society.”
“This is a code red situation. No government is taking it seriously enough. We must urgently seek productive collaboration between sub-national, national, and international bodies to do more to combat climate issues equitably, with determination and speed.”
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