UN Report Says This is Our Last Shot to Take Action on Climate Change

Illustration for article titled UN Report Says This is Our Last Shot to Take Action on Climate Change

World leaders have wasted a ton of valuable time not pursuing climate action—so much that our only hope now is curtailing greenhouse gas emissions at an unprecedented rate.

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A bleak report report published by the United Nation Environment Program (UNEP) on Tuesday warns that global temperatures are on track to rise by as much as 3.9 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. As last year’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change showed, even reaching 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) could usher in the loss of nearly all coral reefs and most Arctic sea ice. The new report warns that the nearly 4 degrees Celsius of warming we’re on track for would be “destructive.”

“Our collective failure to act early and hard on climate change means we now must deliver deep cuts to emissions – over 7 per cent each year, if we break it down evenly over the next decade,” Inger Andersen, UNEP’s Executive Director, said in a statement.

The annual Emissions Gap Report shows that Global emissions have risen by about 1.5 percent every year for the past decade. According to another new report from the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization, levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached an all-time high in 2018 and are showing no signs of slowing down.

To keep temperatures increases below 1.5 degrees Celsius and adhere to the Paris Climate Accord, nations will have to halve their 2018 levels by 2030. That means cutting global greenhouse gas emissions 7.6 percent every year for the next decade. The report calls on all countries to drastically reduce their emissions, but says not everyone should bear an equal burden. Members of the G20—the world’s most developed countries—contribute some 78 percent of all emissions, so “for reasons of fairness and equity,” they need to take the lead.

As the world’s biggest historical emitter, the U.S. should bear a particularly heavy burden to curb carbon pollution. But we’re moving in the wrong direction: National carbon emissions rose by 2.7 percent last year. The report states that even nations’ pledges under the Paris Climate Agreement won’t keep the Earth anywhere near 1.5 degrees of warming, and Trump is even withdrawing the nation from that.

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Like the spate of recent, groundbreaking reports from international scientists, the UNEP calls for radical, transformative changes to the global economy. We have the technology to make those changes. What we don’t have is time to mess around with half-measures.

“It is evident that incremental changes will not be enough and there is a need for rapid and transformational action,” the authors wrote. “By necessity, this will see profound change in how energy, food, and other material-intensive services are demanded and provided by governments, businesses, and markets.”

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The study comes just days international climate talks are set to resume. At COP25 in Madrid, civic leaders will be tasked with submitting bolder climate action plans to meet the Paris Accord. And the new report shows the stakes couldn’t be any higher.

“Across the globe, resistance to fossil fuels is rising, the climate strikes have shown the world that we are prepared to take action. Going forward people will keep up a steady drumbeat of actions, strikes and protests that get louder and louder throughout 2020,” said May Boeve, Chief Executive of 350.org, in a statement. “To governments attending Cop25 in Madrid, the eyes of all future generations are upon you.”

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Earther staff writer. Blogs about energy, animals, why we shouldn't trust the private sector to solve the climate crisis, etc. Has an essay in the 2021 book The World We Need.

DISCUSSION

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NovemberAjax

Ugh. Ok well first you have to deal with deniers and assholes like Trump, so it seems fitting to post this here:

Explaining the Trump alternative facts universe in terms your MAGA Cousin can understand.

UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTED FACT: Grass is green.

TRUMP: *tweets* Grass iz purpil.

EVERYONE WHO HAS EYES: Is he saying that grass is purple? Um, no it’s not. It’s green.

FOX NEWS: Grass is purple.

CNN: Breaking news: New debate rages about whether grass is green or purple.

EVERYONE: I’m sorry, what? Grass is green. There’s no debate.

CNN: Well we have to be fair and legitimize both sides.

EVERYONE: Grass is green. There is no other side.

TRUMP: *addresses news media on White House lawn*

REPORTER: What about the green grass that you’re literally standing on?

TRUMP: You’re very rude. The fake news media is very unfair to me!

TRUMP BASE: *chanting* Grass is purple! Grass is purple!

KELLYANNE: The democrats are trying to shove green grass down your throats because they’re all SOCIALISTS.

RUSSIAN TROLL ONLINE: Hillary Clinton has child slaves underneath a pizza parlor in Queens stealing everyone’s purple grass and painting it green.

TRUMP: *retweets Russian troll*

NEWS MEDIA: *legitimizes retweet by airing footage of it all day*

TUCKER: The Democrats are coming for your grass! 2nd amendment!!!

JIM JORDAN: *screaming* THEY HAVE NO PROOF WHATSOEVER THAT GRASS IS GREEN! NONE!

SCIENTISTS: Um, actually, we have irrefutable scientific proo...

JIM JORDAN: *screaming louder than all the scientists* NONE!!

HANNITY: Anybody that tells you grass is green is part of the deep state.

YOU: But grass IS green.

YOUR GRANDMOTHER AT THANKSGIVING DINNER: Are you part of the deep stage?

YOUR COUSIN IN PENSACOLA: *posts Breitbart meme on Facebook of cartoon frog smoking purple grass*

TRUMP: *tweets* Deep state! Socialists! 2nd amendment! I saw green grass the other day but it was artificial turf! That’s proof that all green grass is FAKE!

NEW YORK TIMES HEADLINE: Grass still green.

NOBODY: *reads newspapers*

RNC: *already mass producing purple hats with clever 2020 re-election slogan all made in China*

CHINA: *laughing in Chinese* Americans are assholes.

BARR: The report states that Trump is totally exonerated.

EVERYONE: There is no report.

LANDSCAPER IN INDIANA: It’s against my religious beliefs to plant green grass.

TRUMP: *already onto the next scandal*

EVERYONE: Oh for fucks sake. Sure. Grass is purple. This is too fucking exhausting. Who cares anymore.

UNIVERSALLY ACCEPTED FACT: Grass is now both green and purple at the exact same time.

PLANET EARTH: *heats up to the point where grass no longer exists*