The fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report was released today and strongly reaffirms that humans are driving climate change. The report shows that our climate is changing, from the poles to the equator. It’s more certain than ever that pollution from burning fossil fuels is changing our climate in ways that contribute to rising seas, stronger storms, hotter days and more extreme weather.
The scientific case for taking urgent action to address climate change has been beyond dispute for at least two decades. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report confirms with greater certainty what communities around the world know from first-hand experience: “Human influence on the climate system is clear.” Climate change is unequivocal, it is unprecedented, and human activities resulting from burning of fossil fuels are to blame. Limiting climate change demands immediate, dramatic and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions that we cannot achieve on our current path. Continued inaction in the face of this information will cause climate catastrophes far greater than any we’ve yet witnessed.
Accordingly, this latest IPCC report should bring renewed urgency to efforts to confront climate change at the national and international levels. Just as importantly, however, it should send a clear signal to decision-makers at all levels, not just policymakers but CEOs, shareholders and investors alike, that they can no longer ignore the climate impacts and the risks associated with a business as usual approach. As our understanding of climate impacts increases, so too does our awareness that the continued extraction and burning of fossil fuels comes at a devastating cost to human lives, human rights and the environment.
The question is not which of the emissions pathways we seem to be on at present, but what decisions we make in the next few years that determine the pathway we will be on in the coming decades.
We must act now to reduce carbon pollution to avoid catastrophic damages to millions of people, their livelihoods and their health.