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Climate Crisis: We Have Two Years Left To Save The World, UN Climate Chief Warns

Humanity has only two years left “to save the world” by making dramatic changes in the way it spews heat-trapping emissions, according to the head of the United Nations climate agency. It has even less time to act to get the finances behind such a massive shift.

Governments of the world are facing a 2025 deadline for new and stronger plans to curb carbon pollution, nearly half of the world’s populations voting in elections this year, and crucial global finance meetings are taking place later this month in Washington.

United Nations executive climate secretary, Simon Stiell said Wednesday he knows his warning may sound melodramatic but action over the next two years is “essential.”

“We still have a chance to make greenhouse gas emissions tumble, with a new generation of national climate plans. But we need these stronger plans, now,” Stiell said in a speech at the Chatham House think tank in London.

He suggested that climate action is not just for powerful people to address – in a not-so-veiled reference to the electoral calendar this year.

“Who exactly has two years to save the world? The answer is every person on this planet,” Stiell said.

“More and more people want climate action right across societies and political spectrums, in large part because they are feeling the impacts of the climate crisis in their everyday lives and their household budgets.”

Crop-destroying droughts have increased the need for bolder action to curb emissions and help farmers adapt which could boost food security and lessen hunger, he said.

“Cutting fossil fuel pollution will mean better health and huge savings for governments and households alike,” Stiell said.

Not everyone is convinced such warnings will be helpful.

“‘Two years to save the world’ is meaningless rhetoric – at best, it’s likely to be ignored, at worst, it will be counterproductive,” said Princeton University climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer, who is also a professor of international affairs.

Levels of carbon dioxide and methane in the air last year hit all-time highs, according to United States government calculations, while scientists calculate that the world’s carbon dioxide emissions jumped 1.1 per cent.

Last year was the hottest year on record by far, global temperature monitoring groups concluded.

If emissions of carbon dioxide and methane from burning of coal, oil and natural gas continue to rise or don’t start a sharp decline, Stiell said it “will further entrench the gross inequalities between the world’s richest and poorest countries and communities” that are being worsened by climate change.

 

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