|Continued global warming will have catastrophic effects|
on global food supplies. Reuters
by Ian Johnston Environment Correspondent, independent.co.uk, 3 November 2016
'We will grieve over the avoidable human tragedy; the growing numbers of climate refugees hit by hunger, poverty, illness and conflict will be a constant reminder of our failure to deliver'
The world will “grieve over the avoidable human tragedy” of climate change, as refugees flee “hunger, poverty, illness and conflict” unless urgent action is taken to reduce emissions from fossil fuels, the United Nations has warned.
Despite the Paris climate agreement being hailed as a the “moment we decided to save our planet” by US President Barack Obama among others, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said the commitments made by countries so far were “not nearly enough” to prevent disastrous global warming.
In a report, which UNEP said it hoped would be a “wake-up call to the world”, the world body estimated the Earth’s average temperature was set to increase by up to 3.4 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2100 – the kind of change that would take at least tens of thousands of years to occur naturally, accomplished by humans in little over two centuries. It called for further measures to reduce greenhouse gases by a quarter by 2030.
Despite an overwhelming scientific consensus that climate change is real, the total amount of greenhouse gases produced by humans has continued to rise as countries have focused on short-term economic growth.
Next week world leaders will meet in Morocco for the first major climate summit after Paris, which organisers have pledged will be a “conference of concrete action”.
The UNEP report was unequivocal about the need for the countries to co-operate with that aim in mind.
“Everybody willing to look can see the impact of our changing climate. People already face rising seas, expanding desertification and coastal erosion. They take little comfort from agreements to adopt mitigation measures and finance adaptation in the future. They need action today,” wrote Erik Solheim, head of UNEP, and Jacqueline McGlade, UNEP’s chief scientist, in the report’s foreword.
But the reductions in greenhouse gases promised at Paris were “not nearly enough”.
“This report estimates we are actually on track for global warming of up to 3.4 degrees Celsius,” the foreword said. "Current commitments will reduce emissions by no more than a third of the levels required by 2030 to avert disaster. We must take urgent action. If we don’t, we will mourn the loss of biodiversity and natural resources. We will regret the economic fallout.
“Most of all, we will grieve over the avoidable human tragedy; the growing numbers of climate refugees hit by hunger, poverty, illness and conflict will be a constant reminder of our failure to deliver. None of this will be the result of bad weather. It will be the result of bad choices by governments, private sector and individual citizens.”