'Now or never' to stop irreversible climate change

ITV News Science Editor Deborah Cohen reports on the latest startling global warming report from the UN

Immediate action needs to be taken to limit the impact of global warming across the world, according to a new report into climate change.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found greenhouse gas emission levels were at their highest in history between 2010 and 2019.

Although rate of growth in emissions has reduced, the report says: "Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, limiting global warming to 1.5°C is beyond reach."

Since 2010, the increase in solar and wind energy has helped slow the growth in emissions but more needs to be done to sustain the planet in the long term. “We are at a crossroads. The decisions we make now can secure a liveable future. We have the tools and know-how required to limit warming,” said IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee. “I am encouraged by climate action being taken in many countries.

"There are policies, regulations and market instruments that are proving effective.

"If these are scaled up and applied more widely and equitably, they can support deep emissions reductions and stimulate innovation.”IPCC is calling for a reduction in all emissions by 2030 to help achieve the goal of keeping temperature rises to 1.5C.

More open spaces in cities could help with global warming. Credit: PA

One of the key ways of achieving will be to transform the energy industry by reducing fossil fuel usage, widespread electrification, greater energy efficiency and using alternative fuels such as hydrogen.

Lower emission vehicles and more compact cities that are more suitable for walking would be of great benefit to the environment. Additionally, more parks and open spaces in urban areas would help capture carbon to reduce its impact. “Having the right policies, infrastructure and technology in place to enable changes to our lifestyles and behaviour can result in a 40-70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This offers significant untapped potential,” said IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair Priyadarshi Shukla.

“The evidence also shows that these lifestyle changes can improve our health and wellbeing.”

For the aims outlined by the IPCC to work, emissions need to peak by 2025 and be reduced by 43% before 2030.

IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair Jim Skea said: “It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F).

"Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible.” 

“We are on a pathway to global warming of more than double the 1.5-degree limit agreed in Paris,” UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres warned.

Speaking at the IPCC news conference, he said: “Some government and business leaders are saying one thing – but doing another.

“Simply put, they are lying and the results will be catastrophic.”

Mr Guterres went on to say that high-emitting governments and corporations are “adding fuel to the flames”.

“They are choking our planet, based on their vested interests and historic investments in fossil fuels, when cheaper, renewable solutions provide green jobs, energy security, and greater price stability.”