A UN report warns that the world is racing to avoid a catastrophe

(CNN) — The world is fast approaching catastrophic levels of warming, and international climate targets will not be met unless immediate and drastic action is taken, a new UN-backed report suggests.

“The ticking time bomb of the climate crisis is exploding,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement. Synthesis Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) this Monday. “Humanity is walking on very thin ice, and that ice is melting fast,” he added.

The report draws on the findings of hundreds of scientists to provide a comprehensive assessment of the unfolding climate crisis.

The information is not new: the report brings together what the IPCC has already established in other reports in recent years. But it paints a very clear picture of where the world is headed.

“This report is the most dire and alarming assessment of the spiraling climate impacts we all face if we don’t make systemic changes now,” Friends of the Earth International program coordinator Sarah Shaw said in a statement.

The impacts of planet-warming pollution are already far more severe than expected, and we are headed for even more dangerous and irreversible consequences, the report says.

While the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels is still possible, the path to achieving it is shrinking rapidly in world production, the report noted. Rising: Emissions rose by nearly 1% last year.

The concentration of carbon pollution in the atmosphere is at its highest level in more than two million years and the rate of temperature increase over the past half century is the highest in 2,000 years.

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The impacts of the climate crisis continue to hit the poorest and most vulnerable countries that have done the least to deal with it.

Floods in Pakistan.

“Our planet is already facing serious climate impacts, from heat waves and destructive storms to severe droughts and water scarcity,” World Resources Institute President and CEO Ani Dasgupta said in a statement.

The biggest threat to climate change action is the world’s continued reliance on burning fossil fuels, which still account for more than 80% of the world’s energy and 75% of the human-made pollution responsible for global warming.

Despite the International Energy Agency saying by 2021 that there can be no new fossil fuel development now if the world is to meet climate commitments, governments continue to approve oil, gas and coal projects.

The Biden administration has given the green light to a controversial willow oil drilling project in Alaska. Once operational, it is projected to produce enough oil to release 9.2 million metric tons of planet-warming carbon pollution a year, the equivalent of putting 2 million gasoline-powered cars on the road.

A new report from the United Nations shows that “Earth’s future is not predetermined,” White House director of science and technology policy Aarti Prabhakar said in a statement.

“This underscores the urgent need for leaders from all sectors and all countries to step up and take bold climate action,” Prabhakar said.

China is planning a massive expansion of coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel. By 2022, it has granted approval for coal generation at 82 sites, equivalent to starting up two large coal-fired power plants every week, according to a report last month.

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But Monday’s report also sets out paths to keep the world on track by limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. “This IPCC report is a strong condemnation of the inaction of major emitters and a strong blueprint for a more secure and equitable world,” Dasgupta said.

Coal mining in China.

Avoiding the worst impacts of the climate crisis will require radical changes in all sectors of the economy and society, the report says.

Call for deep cuts in planet-warming pollution by shifting away from fossil fuels and investing in renewable energy. To limit warming to 1.5°C, the report says, planet-warming pollutants must be reduced by 60% by 2035 compared to 2019 levels.

It also emphasizes the need for greater investment in climate shocks and building more support for those struggling with climate-related losses, particularly in the most vulnerable countries.

For example, the report said we should also remove carbon from the air through “direct air capture” — technology that removes carbon directly from the air and stores it underground.

However, the technology continues to be divisive, as some believe it distracts from policies aimed at reducing planet-warming pollution.

“In my country, Sri Lanka, the impacts of climate change are now being felt. We don’t have time to chase fairy tales like carbon removal technologies that suck carbon out of the air,” Friends of the Earth International president Hemanta Vithanage said in a statement.

Guterres called on all countries to “massively accelerate climate efforts,” especially rich nations, to press the “fast forward button” on pledges to reach net zero, which means removing as many polluting emissions as possible from the atmosphere.

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For the first time, he said developed countries must reach net zero by 2040, ahead of the 2050 deadline many countries, including the US and UK, have pledged to meet.

“Today’s IPCC report is a practical guide to defuse the climate time bomb,” Guterres said. “But it will take a quantum leap in climate action,” he added.

The report, signed over the weekend by representatives of nearly 200 UN countries, will feed into the UN climate conference, COP28, to be held in Dubai later this year. The conference included the first “global stocktake” of the Paris Climate Agreement, an assessment of progress in tackling the climate crisis and preventing climate catastrophe.

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