Green Finance Advisor of Friends of the Earth (HK)

Continuing to burn fossil fuels threatens human well-being and the stability of much of life on Earth, with the chance of avoiding the most severe impacts moving rapidly out of reach, according to a report released Monday by United Nations-backed climate scientists. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s latest AR6 synthesis report: Climate Change 2023 is over 8000 pages long.

“This report is a clarion call to massively fast-track climate efforts by every country and every sector and on every timeframe,” said UN Secretary General António Guterres in a statement alongside the release by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. “In short, our world needs climate action on all fronts — everything, everywhere, all at once.”

Key takeaways for readers of FOE Green Finance blog:

  • Human-induced global warming of 1.1°C has spurred changes to the Earth’s climate that are unprecedented in recent human history. Greenhouse gas emissions generated by human activity have unequivocally caused global warming, and emissions have continued to rise, with some countries and groups contributing far more than others.
  • Although policies to mitigate climate change have expanded, it’s likely that the world will exceed 1.5°C of warming “in the near term.” The world must cut greenhouse gas emissions to 60% below 2019 levels by 2035.
  • “Widespread and rapid” changes to planetary systems have already taken place, their impacts disproportionately affecting the world’s at-risk populations. More than 3 billion people are highly vulnerable to climate change.
  • Climate adaptation has advanced, but not enough. Current levels of funding are insufficient. Increased warming will make adaptation harder.
  • The world must rapidly shift away from burning fossil fuels — the number one cause of the climate crisis.
  • We also need urgent, systemwide transformations to secure a net-zero, climate-resilient future
  • Carbon removal is now essential to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C. Limiting warming to 1.5°C or 2°C will require deep emissions cuts across the economy this decade. If the world overshoots 1.5°C, that level could be brought down again by ending emissions and deploying carbon removal, but carbon removal brings additional concerns.

Meanwhile, the world’s top two annual emitters are still expanding that infrastructure: China approved more coal projects than other nations combined in 2022 while the US just approved a new oil drilling project in Alaska. The US is the largest historical emitter.