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Local residents use a temporary cradle service to cross the river Swat after heavy rains in Bahrain, Pakistan on August 31, 2022, as misery mounted for millions trapped by the worst floods in the country's history. (Photo: Abdul Majeed/AFP via Getty Images)

New UN Report Shows Fossil Fuel Addiction Is a 'Recipe for Permanent Climate Chaos'

"This year's United in Science report shows climate impacts heading into uncharted territories of destruction," said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres.

Jenna McGuire

A multi-agency report coordinated by the World Meteorological Organization, released on Tuesday, says current global climate mitigation efforts are woefully inadequate and warns without more urgent action the physical and socioeconomic impacts will be increasingly devastating.

"The current fossil fuel free-for-all must end now."

The report, United in Science 2022, found that greenhouse gas concentrations continue to rise to record highs and the global emission reduction pledges for 2030 need to be seven times higher to be in line with the 1.5 °C goal of the Paris agreement.

"This year's United in Science report shows climate impacts heading into uncharted territories of destruction," U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said in a video message. "Yet each year we double down on this fossil fuel addiction, even as the symptoms get rapidly worse."

The agencies—TKTK—found that the most recent seven years, 2015-2021, were the warmest on record, while the ocean heat content for 2018-2022 was higher than in any other five-year period, with ocean warming rates showing significant increase in the past two decades.

The number of weather, climate, and water-related disasters has increased by a factor of five over the past 50 years, the report concludes, causing $202 million in daily losses.

Human-caused climate change made the 2022 United Kingdom's summer heatwave at least 10 times more likely, according to the World Weather Attribution initiative.

"Floods, droughts, heatwaves, extreme storms, and wildfires are going from bad to worse, breaking records with alarming frequency," said Guterres. "Heatwaves in Europe. Colossal floods in Pakistan. Prolonged and severe droughts in China, the Horn of Africa, and the United States. There is nothing natural about the new scale of these disasters. They are the price of humanity's fossil fuel addiction."

In addition to monitoring extreme weather incidents, the report addresses the need for further research on global tipping points, which include the melting of the polar ice sheets on Greenland and Antarctica, which would have "global consequences due to substantial additional sea-level rise for hundreds to thousands of years."

Other global tipping points mentioned in the report include the drying of the Amazon rainforest, which will cause cascading global and local impactsas well as sustained regional droughts throughout the world, which will "impact the global carbon cycle and disrupt major weather systems such as monsoons."

"The combined effects of higher temperatures and humidity in some regions could reach dangerous levels in the next few decades," the report says, "With physiological tipping points or thresholds beyond which outdoor human labor is no longer possible without technical assistance."

"Today, I urge leaders to heed the facts of this alarming report. We must unite behind the science. We must turn pledges into action. Now."

Cities, which are home to 55% of the global population, are responsible for up to 70% of human-caused emissions and are highly vulnerable to climate change impacts such as increased heavy precipitation, accelerated sea-level rise, acute and chronic coastal flooding, and extreme heat, according to the report.

The report calls on cities to implement inclusive, urgent, and scaled-up mitigation efforts to increase the adaptive capacity of billions of urban inhabitants. It also calls on developed countries to honor the Glasgow decision and provide at least $40 billion dollars a year in climate adaptation to underdeveloped and poorer countries, with adaptation finance needs set to grow to at least $300 billion by 2030.

"The report is a shameful reminder that resilience-building is the neglected half of the climate equation," said Guterres. "It is a scandal that developed countries have failed to take adaptation seriously, and shrugged off their commitments to help the developing world."

While less than half of countries in the world have reported the existence of multi-hazard early warning systems (MHEWS), the report says they are effective adaptation measures that save lives, reduce losses and damages, and cut costs. Early warning systems are particularly weak in Africa, underdeveloped countries, and small island developing states.

A top international priority set by the United Nations is to ensure that everyone on Earth is protected by the MHEWS in the next five years, which will require cooperation from political leaders and financial sectors.

Guterres also called for a renewable energy revolution and urged all government leaders to drastically cut their carbon emissions.

"The G20, which is responsible for 80% of global emissions, must lead the way. There must be no new coal plants built, with coal phased out by 2030 for OECD countries, and by 2040 for all others." said Guterres.

"The current fossil fuel free-for-all must end now. It is a recipe for permanent climate chaos and suffering," he added. "Today, I urge leaders to heed the facts of this alarming report. We must unite behind the science. We must turn pledges into action. Now."

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