business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said this week that the window is closing for humanity to effectively address the threat of climate change.

“Humanity is on thin ice — and that ice is melting fast,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said. “Our world needs climate action on all fronts — everything, everywhere, all at once.”

The Associated Press writes that if humanity has a chance "to prevent the worst of climate change’s future harms," it will require "quickly slashing nearly two-thirds of carbon pollution by 2035."

According to the story, "Guterres called for rich countries to accelerate their target for achieving net zero emissions to as early as 2040, and developing nations to aim for 2050 — about a decade earlier than most current targets.

"He also called for them to stop using coal by 2030 and 2040, respectively, and ensure carbon-free electricity generation in the developed world by 2035, meaning no gas-fired power plants either.

"That date is key because nations soon have to come up with goals for pollution reduction by 2035, according to the Paris climate agreement. After contentious debate, the U.N. science report approved Sunday concluded that to stay under the warming limit set in Paris the world needs to cut 60% of its greenhouse gas emissions by 2035, compared with 2019, adding a new target not previously mentioned in six previous reports issued since 2018."

The AP notes that "with the world only a few tenths of a degree away from the globally accepted goal of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since preindustrial times, scientists stressed a sense of urgency … This is likely the last warning the Nobel Peace Prize-winning collection of scientists will be able to make about the 1.5 mark because their next set of reports may well come after Earth has either passed the mark or is locked into exceeding it soon, several scientists, including report authors, told the Associated Press."

Axios characterizes the report as including "a litany of indications that climate change is already severe and causing human suffering.  Not only are deadly extreme weather events, bleaching coral reefs, rising sea levels and other risks a present-day problem, but multiple lines of evidence now indicate that dangerous climate impacts are worsening faster than previously known."

Axios also writes that the report "calls for reforming the financial system to direct more money to climate-resilient development and low-carbon energy sources.

"Yes, but: Major oil and gas companies have no plans to move more aggressively on their fossil fuel transition plans."

Now, I'm sure that there will be those who will suggest that if every country does not adopt these goals and then work aggressively to meet them, then it does not make sense for any country to do so.  The argument will be that if we do it unilaterally, we handicap ourselves from competing effectively in the global economy.

And there will be those who will question the science behind these warnings.

I cannot help but think, though, that if we do not heed these warnings, there won't be a global economy in which our grandchildren can thrive.  

The warning is an Eye-Opener.  Whether or not we actually keep our eyes open is up to us.