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Crucial moments for climate change activists, planet

Accelerated consequences of global warming

Picture: Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Meander Chronicle Reporter

International scientists are collaborating on inputs to finalise a crucial climate change report.

The work done remotely, due to Covid-19, comes as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is preparing the most comprehensive assessment on the state of global heating since 2013, the BBC notes.

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It also arrives slap-bang in the middle of extreme climate events such as deadly flooding in northern Europe and China, raging wildfires in North America and droughts in Brazil and parts of the US West. Parts of South Africa, too, have suffered extreme drought in the past few years, emptying dams, threatening water security and devastating farms, crops and livestock.

Of major concern, is that the consequences of warming appear to be more extreme than earlier predicted. Picture: Chris le Boutillier/Unsplash

Experts say the report will have dramatic findings on some unexpected developments and consequences of warming and will be a “wake-up call” to governments.

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“It’s not so much that climate change itself is proceeding faster than expected – the warming is right in line with model predictions from decades ago,” said climate scientist Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University. “Rather, it’s the fact that some of the impacts are greater than scientists predicted.”

That suggests that climate modelling may have been underestimating “the potential for the dramatic rise in persistent weather extremes,” Mann said. [report by the Thomson Reuters Foundation]

A new generation of activists stepped in after the influential 2018 1.5C report. Picture: Paddy O’Sullivan/Unsplash

The BBC report notes: “It is expected that the short, 40-page Summary for Policymakers will play an important role in guiding global leaders who will come to Glasgow (26th UN Climate Change Conference, also known as COP 26) in November to deal with critical climate questions.”

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Climate change experts point to the highly impactful 2018 IPCC special report on keeping global temperature rise under 1.5C.

The reason this report was so important was the way it mobilised a new generation of activists who were willing to take action and go to the streets demanding accountability from governments to turn around the climate change tide and step up legislation.

Southern Africa has not been immune to the climate impacts and has seen droughts and heatwaves. Farmers have been hard hit and alarm bells have rung in Cape Town, Eastern Cape and Gauteng in recent years over water security. Picture: Redcharlie/Unsplash

“The 1.5C report was really kind of instrumental for young people to use that science to marshal their efforts towards action,” said Ko Barrett, a vice chair of the IPCC and a head of research at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa), as quoted by the BBC.

We cannot wait

Climate change experts and activists are again pointing out that “concrete” action and new laws are urgently required and cannot be deferred in favour of economic realities or to score political points. Hard decisions must be made now. Economies, livelihoods and lives are now closely interlinked with how warming progresses or is halted. Our natural, world, animals and environment also face extreme risks.

“The world has a strong framework for action: the Paris Agreement, in which all countries committed to set their own national climate action plans and strengthen them every five years. Over five years later, and with damning proof that if we don’t act, we will destroy our planet, it is time for decisive and effective action as the United Nations convenes all countries in Glasgow in November for COP26,” wrote UN secretary-general António Guterres.

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