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Verdict of the IPCC report on humanity’s climate crimes: guilty as hell | Climate change


As a verdict on humanity’s climate crimes, the new report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change couldn’t be clearer: guilty as hell.

Warnings repeatedly ignored by scientists over the past decades have now come true. Humanity, by its actions, or its inaction, has unequivocally overheated the planet. Nowhere on Earth escapes rising temperatures, more severe flooding, hotter forest fires, or more intense droughts.

The future looks worse. “If we don’t stop our emissions soon, our future climate may well become something of hell on Earth,” says Professor Tim Palmer of the University of Oxford.

It would be worth it for these climate crimes, but it has not yet been pronounced. The world can avoid the harshest punishment, but only fair. Immediate repentance for the delays that brought the world to the brink of collapse is required in the form of immediate and deep reductions in emissions.

The key aspect of the IPCC report is that the 42-page summary is endorsed, line by line, by governments around the world, with scientists vetoing any politically convenient but unscientific proposal.

As a result, governments that continue to fail to act have nowhere to hide – the crystal-clear report shattered all their alibis. “Too many ‘net-zero’ climate plans have been used to green pollution and business as usual,” says Teresa Anderson of ActionAid International.

The report sets out such plans with its categorical statement that immediate action is the only way to avoid ever more severe impacts, including today’s wildfires in California, Greece and Turkey, flooding in Germany, China and England, and the heat waves in Canada and Siberia are just a taste. As Greta Thunberg says, the climate crisis must be treated as a crisis.

The action required is well known and the IPCC report must be the spur to take it, says António Guterres, the UN Secretary General: “This report must spell the end of coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet. If we join forces now, we can prevent a climate catastrophe. But, as the report makes clear, there is no time for delays and no room for apologies. “

Every choice now counts. Helen Clarkson, CEO of The Climate Group, which represents 220 regional governments and 300 multinational companies, covering 1.75 billion people and 50% of the global economy, says: “Every decision, every investment, every goal, must have the climate to its core.

The gravity of the situation exposed in the report erases the bluster about the supposed costs of climate action. In any case, not taking action will cost a lot more. “It is suicidal and economically irrational to continue to procrastinate,” said Prof. Saleemul Huq, director of the International Center for Climate Change and Development at the Independent University of Bangladesh.

For governments and businesses that have yet chosen inaction, the IPCC report may well end up being used as key evidence against them in real courtrooms. “We will take this report with us to court,” says Kaisa Kosonen of Greenpeace.

“By strengthening the scientific evidence between human emissions and extreme weather conditions, the IPCC has provided powerful new means to hold the fossil fuel industry and governments directly accountable for the climate emergency,” she said. “One only has to look at our recent legal victory against Shell to realize just how powerful the science of the IPCC can be. “

Hope remains, just. Christiana Figueres, who was UN climate chief when the Paris agreement was sealed in 2015, said: “Everything we need to avoid the exponential impacts of climate change is doable. But it depends on solutions that scale exponentially faster than impacts. “

The IPCC report means that all the evidence that will ever be needed is now in place. “The continued reluctance to tackle climate change is no longer about the lack of scientific evidence, but is directly related to a lack of political will,” says Kristina Dahl of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

This means that political leaders are now in the dock and the vital UN Cop26 summit in Glasgow in November could be the last hearing in which they can avoid trial in history.

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