Urgent climate action can secure a liveable future for all

Urgent climate action can secure a liveable future for all



20 March 2023
Press Release Number:

INTERLAKEN, Switzerland, March 20, 2023 – There are multiple, feasible and effective options to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to human -caused climate change, and they are available now, according to the Synthesis report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released today.

But time is running out.

«The climate time-bomb is ticking. But today’s IPCC report is a how-to guide to defuse the climate time-bomb. It is a survival guide for humanity. As it shows, the 1.5-degree limit is achievable. But it will take a quantum leap in climate action, said UN Secretary-General António Guterres.

“This Synthesis Report underscores the urgency of taking more ambitious action and shows that, if we act now, we can still secure a liveable sustainable future for all,” said IPCC Chair Hoesung-Lee.

The Synthesis Report is the closing chapter of the Panel’s Sixth Assessment. It highlights the scale of the challenge due to a continued increase in greenhouse gas emissions. The pace and scale of what has been done so far, and current plans, are insufficient to tackle climate change.

More than a century of burning fossil fuels as well as unequal and unsustainable energy and land use has led to global warming of 1.1°C above pre -industrial levels.

This has resulted in more frequent and more intense extreme weather events that have caused increasingly dangerous impacts on nature and people in every region of the world. Every increment of warming results in rapidly escalating hazards. More intense heatwaves, heavier rainfall and other weather extremes further increase risks for human health and ecosystems.

In every region, people are dying from extreme heat. Climate -driven food and water insecurity is expected to increase with increased warming. When the risks combine with other adverse events, such as pandemics or conflicts, they become even more difficult to manage.

WMO comments

Credit: IPCC-A.Tardy

« The report echoes the findings of all of the IPCC assessment reports since the 1990. Now with a much higher tone: the earlier theoretical risks have materialized. Climate change is already visible and its human, economic and social problems are growing, » said Prof. Petteri Taalas, World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General

« This report shows that we are at the moment heading towards 2.2-3.5 degrees warming.

Warming of 3 degrees would have dramatic impact on human health, the biosphere, food security and the global economy. Many of those risks could be avoided if we would stay within 1.5 degrees warming. »

« WMO will publish its state of the global climate report in a few weeks, where we will show that all of the climate parameters are moving in totally the wrong direction: ocean warming, ocean acidification, melting of glaciers, sea level rise, flooding and drought events, and concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide.”

The other key IPCC message is that it much more rational to limit climate change as compared to inaction or to face its consequences. The good news is that we have both economically and technically attractive means to limit the warming level even to 1.5°C, and the transition is also a great opportunity for new businesses and financial savings.

« In addition to climate change mitigation, we need to accelerate climate change adaptation. Early warning systems are a cost-effective and efficient adaptation tool and this is why WMO is prioritizing the Early Warnings for All by 2027,” he said.

Losses and damages in sharp focus

The IPCC report was approved during a week -long session in Interlaken. It brings into sharp focus the losses and damages we are already experiencing and will continue into the future, hitting the most vulnerable people and ecosystems especially hard. Taking the right action now could result in the transformational change essential for a sustainable, equitable world.

“Climate justice is crucial because those who have contributed least to climate change are being disproportionately affected,” said Aditi Mukherji, one of the 93 authors of this.

“Almost half of the world’s population lives in regions that are highly vulnerable to climate change. In the last decade, deaths from floods, droughts and storms were 15 times higher in highly vulnerable regions,“ she added.

In this decade, accelerated action to adapt to climate change is essential to close the gap between existing adaptation and what is needed. Meanwhile, keeping warming to 1.5°C above pre -industrial levels requires deep, rapid and sustained greenhouse gas emissions reductions in all sectors.

Emissions should be decreasing by now and will need to be cut by almost half by 2030, if warming is to be limited to 1.5°C. The solution lies in climate resilient development.

This involves integrating measures to adapt to climate change with actions to reduce or avoid greenhouse gas emissions in ways that provide wider benefits.

For example: access to clean energy and technologies improves health, especially for women and children; low -carbon electrification, walking, cycling and public transport enhance air quality, improve health, employment opportunities and deliver equity.

The economic benefits for people’s health from air quality improvements alone would be roughly the same, or possibly even larger than the costs of reducing or avoiding emissions.

Global warming

Climate resilient development

Climate resilient development becomes progressively more challenging with every increment of warming. This is why the choices made in the next few years will play a critical role in deciding our future and that of generations to come.

To be effective, these choices need to be rooted in our diverse values, worldviews and knowledges, including scientific knowledge, Indigenous Knowledge and local knowledge.

This approach will facilitate climate resilient development and allow locally appropriate, socially acceptable solutions.

“The greatest gains in wellbeing could come from prioritizing climate risk reduction for low -income and marginalised communities, including people living in informal settlements,” said Christopher Trisos, one of the report’s authors.

“Accelerated climate action will only come about if there is a many -fold increase in finance. Insufficient and misaligned finance is holding back progress.”

There is sufficient global capital to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions if existing barriers are reduced. Increasing finance to climate investments is important to achieve global climate goals.

Governments, through public funding and clear signals to investors, are key in reducing these barriers. Investors, central banks and financial regulators can also play their part. There are tried and tested policy measures that can work to achieve deep emissions reductions and climate resilience if they are scaled up and applied more widely. Political commitment, coordinated policies, international cooperation, ecosystem stewardship and inclusive governance are all important for effective and equitable climate action.

If technology, know -how and suitable policy measures are shared, and adequate finance is made available now, every community can reduce or avoid carbon -intensive consumption.

At the same time, with significant investment in adaptation, we can avert rising risks, especially for vulnerable groups and regions.

Climate, ecosystems and society are interconnected. Effective and equitable conservation of approximately 30 -50% of the Earth’s land, freshwater and ocean will help ensure a healthy planet. Urban areas offer a global scale opportunity for ambitious climate action that contributes to sustainable development.

Changes in the food sector, electricity, transport, industry, buildings and land -use can reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At the same time, they can make it easier for people to lead low-carbon lifestyles, which will also improve health and wellbeing. A better understanding of the consequences of overconsumption can help people make more informed choices.

“Transformational changes are more likely to succeed where there is trust, where everyone works together to prioritise risk reduction, and where benefits and burdens are shared equitably,” Lee said.  “We live in a diverse world in which everyone has different responsibilities and different opportunities to bring about change. Some can do a lot while others will need support to help them manage the change, » he said.

Notes for Editors

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. It was established by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in 1988 to provide political leaders with periodic scientific assessments about climate change. The IPCC has 195 member states that are members of the UN or WMO




The World Meteorological Organization is the United Nations System’s authoritative voice on Weather, Climate and Water

For further information contact: Clare Nullis, WMO media officer, media@wmo.int Tel 41-79-7091397

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