'Near point of no return': New UN report issues stark climate warning

"The climate-change bomb is ticking," says the UN in an urgent global warming warning, as ITV News' Science Editor Emily Morgan reports

A new climate change report will warn time is running out for humanity to avoid passing a dangerous global warming threshold.

Scientists from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have advised urgent climate action is required if we are to adapt to human-caused climate change.

The report was approved by countries at the end of a week-long meeting of the IPCC in the Swiss town of Interlaken, meaning governments have accepted its findings as authoritative advice on which to base their actions.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned delegates at the meeting the planet is “nearing the point of no return” and the world risks passing the internationally agreed limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) of global warming since pre-industrial times.

The situation is deteriorating due to increasing global emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, scientists say.Experts blame the increasing scale of fossil fuel burning, deforestation and intensive agriculture - when evidence points to an urgent need to drive down the practises sharply.

The new report, which has been compiled by hundreds of the world's top scientists, states every increment of warming results in rapidly escalating hazards.

A doctor checks a sick girl in the hospital after her home was hit by floods in Shikarpur district of Sindh Province, of Pakistan Credit: AP

Scientists expect more intense heatwaves, heavier rainfall and other weather extremes, further increasing risks for human health and ecosystems.

And, when the risks combine with other adverse events, such as pandemics or conflicts, they become even more difficult to manage.

Aditi Mukherji, one of the reports' authors, said: "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.“

Millions of dead fish have washed up in Australia after floods and hot weather depleted oxygen levels in outback rivers. Credit: AP

Back in 2015, governments in Paris agreed to try and limit temperature rises to 1.5C or at least below 2C. However, scientists have increasingly argued that any warming beyond that lower threshold would put humanity at dire risk.

Average global temperatures have already increased by 1.1C since the 19th century, but Guterres insisted last week that the 1.5C target limit remains possible "with rapid and deep emissions reductions across all sectors of the global economy.”

Experts have blamed more than a century of burning fossil fuels as well as unequal and unsustainable energy and land use for global warming of 1.1C above pre-industrial levels

In order to keep to the 1.5C target over the next decade, emissions would need to be cut in half by 2030.

Monday's report comes after the IPCC made clear two years ago that climate change is clearly caused by human activity and refined its predictions for a range of possible scenarios depending on how much greenhouse gas continues to be released.

“Mainstreaming effective and equitable climate action will not only reduce losses and damages for nature and people, it will also provide wider benefits,” said IPCC chairman Hoesung Lee.

“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.”

People take part in a 'Fridays For Future' protest rally in Berlin. Credit: AP

Further reports by the IPCC focused on the oceans, land and 1.5-degree target. The next round of reports won't be published until the second half of this decade, by when experts say it could be too late to take further measures allowing that ambitious goal to still be met.

In the hopes of stemming the every rising temperatures and emission levels, the report has suggested that greater financial support needs to be focused at clean energy and climate initiatives.

Governments agreed at last year's climate summit in Egypt to create a fund to help pay for the damage that a warming planet is inflicting on vulnerable countries, but failed to commit to new measures for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Displaced families, who fled their flood-hit homes, get relief aid distributed by soldiers of Pakistan rangers. Credit: AP

This report comes just six months on from last year's floods in Pakistan that killed more than 1,700 people, put 6.4 million more in need of humanitarian assistance and dealt a blow to the country's economy mounting into the billions of dollars.

It is likely the report will play a pivotal role when governments gather in Dubai in December for this year's UN climate talks.

The meeting will be the first to take stock of global efforts to cut emissions since the Paris deal, and hear calls from poorer nations seeking more aid.

Guterres, the UN chief, recently argued that fossil fuel companies should hand over some of their vast profits to help victims of climate change.

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