“The priority for our communities, movements, and decision-makers must now be to end the era of fossil fuels and transform our societies and economies towards sustainable systems designed to address peoples’ needs, safety and wellbeing, not profit and greed.”
Dipti Bhatnagar, Climate Justice and Energy International Programme Coordinator, said: “We do not consent to an overshoot of 1.5 degrees, and there is no justification for pursuing policies or pathways that allow for an overshoot.
“We used to chant “1.5, we might survive” – 1.5 was already a compromise for frontline communities suffering the worst climate impacts. The IPCC’s WGII climate scientists told us only last month that breaching this guard-rail, even temporarily, could push us over a series of tipping points that would lead to uncontrollable warming.
“It would be grossly negligent for economists to ignore those warnings and propose inequitable mitigation plans that allow for an overshoot, as is now on the table with this new report.”
Meena Raman, Sahabat Alam Malaysia / Friends of the Earth Malaysia, commented: “The notion that we will be able to overshoot 1.5 degrees and then reverse warming later on through carbon removal and geoengineering technologies – that are wholly speculative and unproven at scale – is anti-science, and anti-human.
“It betrays the cowardice and recklessness of the same actors who have failed, time and again, to take action when it was needed. We have everything we need to solve this problem right now, we lack only the courage of so-called world leaders, especially from the global North, who are trying to hide their historical responsibility for creating the crisis.”
The latest study follows two previous instalments of the overarching sixth assessment report, the first of its kind since 2014.
The first set out a “code red” warning on what humans are doing to the planet, and the second detailed impacts of climate change and our options for – and limits to – adapting to rising temperatures.
A meeting to agree the 63-page summary of the report for policymakers, approved in a line-by-line process involving scientists and representatives of 195 countries, overran by more than two days as delegates wrangled over the text, which is now deemed to have been approved by governments.
The report finds there are still routes to curbing global warming to 1.5C.
But the world is well off track to make the necessary emissions cuts, with pollution continuing to rise, and there is more private and public money flowing into fossil fuels than into climate action.
The report spells out the world can cut emissions by switching to increasingly cheap renewables, electric heating and transport, as well as boosting energy efficiency, capturing carbon and planting trees.
It highlights how consumers can be encouraged to make green choices in eating more plant-based diets, heating homes, taking up walking and cycling or driving electric cars, and how cities can be made greener, more walkable and healthier.
The report says the costs of solar and batteries needed for electric vehicles have plunged by 85 percent in the last decade and their deployment has soared, while wind power has fallen by 55 percent in price.
Some countries have brought in effective laws and policies that have led to falls in emissions.
And it finds the economic benefits of cutting emissions exceed the cost of the action needed, while trillions of dollars of coal, oil and gas assets could become “stranded” as the world takes action to limit global warming.
But based on policies implemented up to the end of 2020, the world faces temperature rises of 3.2C by 2100, and warming of 2.8C even if all the climate action pledges for the next decade are delivered on.
To give the world an even chance of limiting temperatures to 1.5C, immediate action is needed, with 43% cuts in greenhouse gases on 2019 levels by the end of this decade.
Emissions have to peak by between 2020 and before 2025 to limit warming to 1.5C or 2C, with rapid and deep reductions in the coming decades, including for methane which is produced through activities including farming and oil and gas production.
The report warns that measures to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere are “unavoidable” if the world is to reduce emissions to zero overall by the second half of the century to meet the temperature goals.
But these measures, which range from restoring forests to developing technology that directly captures carbon from the air, can have risks.
IPCC chairman Hoesung Lee said: “We are at a crossroads. The decisions we make now can secure a liveable future. We have the tools and know-how required to limit warming.”
Emily Beament is the PA environment correspondent.