Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Are governments heeding the warnings?


From deluges of floods in Europe and now in China to conflagrations of forest wildfires climate change where a Siberian city is suffocating from the smoke are increasingly visible.

The world's climate scientists hope it will be "a wake-up call" for governments. But growing evidence of climate risks is not necessarily driving swifter action to counter them, said Richard Black, a net-zero emissions expert at Imperial College London's Grantham Institute.

"We are now observing climate change with our own eyes in ways we did not broadly before," said Corinne Le Quere, a climate scientist at the University of East Anglia. When it comes to acting on climate change, "the decisions today are political decisions", Le Quere said.

A report due out next month is expected to confirm that the world is not on track to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. It will for the first time look at the growing possibility of "black swan" events. Those are low probability but high impact shifts, such as irreversible melting of major ice sheets that could lead to huge increases in global sea levels.

"The fact we're starting to see some of the impacts of climate change... really ought to be a wake-up call for global governments that this isn't something they can ignore," said Emily Shuckburgh, a University of Cambridge climate scientist. "We're seeing the impacts here and now today, and the impacts are going to get worse unless we take immediate action," she explained.

Australia in 2019 saw devastating wildfires that affected many of its 25 million people, have so far done relatively little to spur the country's lagging climate efforts.

Much of the technology needed to swiftly cut emissions and climate risks is now available and presents a huge opportunity, the scientists said - but the political will to make the changes is still missing, they added.

UN climate science report to examine 'black swan' events (

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