Climate change: UN report shows 'code red for humanity' as it sets out stark reality of climate crisis

Humans are unequivocally driving global warming – with impacts from heatwaves to rising seas and extreme rain already seen around the world, a new UN report warns.

Flames burn a house at Pefki village on Evia island, about 189 kilometers (118 miles) north of Athens, Greece, Sunday, Aug. 8, 2021. Pillars of billowing smoke and ash are blocking out the sun above Greece's second-largest island as a days-old wildfire devours pristine forests and triggers more evacuation alerts. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias)

The assessment from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a stark warning from scientists around the world that human activity is damaging the planet at an alarming rate.

The report warns that climate change is already affecting every region across the globe and that without urgent action our planet could face serious consequences.

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UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres described the report as a “code red for humanity”.

The report says the world will reach or exceed temperature rises of 1.5C over the next two decades.

Cutting global emissions, starting immediately, to net zero by mid-century would give a good chance of limiting global warming to 1.5C in the long-term and help to avoid the worst effects of climate change, according to the report.

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One of the report’s lead authors, Dr Tamsin Edwards from King’s College London, said: “Unless there are immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the 1.5C target will be beyond reach.”

Drawing on more than 14,000 scientific papers to reach its conclusions, the report has found it is “unequivocal” that human activity is warming the world.

A summary report has been released following its approval by representatives of 195 governments, who now face pressure to take more action to cut emissions in the run up to international Cop26 climate talks in Glasgow in November.

Commenting on the report, Boris Johnson said: “Today’s report makes for sobering reading, and it is clear that the next decade is going to be pivotal to securing the future of our planet.

"We know what must be done to limit global warming – consign coal to history and shift to clean energy sources, protect nature and provide climate finance for countries on the frontline.

“The UK is leading the way, decarbonising our economy faster than any country in the G20 over the last two decades. I hope today’s IPCC report will be a wake-up call for the world to take action now, before we meet in Glasgow in November for the critical COP26 summit.”

Cities are at particular risk as the climate warms, experiencing hotter temperatures in heatwaves and flash flooding from heavy rain.

Professor Albert Klein Tank, the Director of the Met Office Hadley Centre said: "More focused projections of future climate change are making some more optimistic outcomes even more challenging, and that should be a warning to all."

Monica Lennon, Scottish Labour’s spokesperson for Net Zero, Energy and Transport said: “To avoid the worst-case climate scenarios, it’s vital that our governments act on the findings of the IPCC report.

“For starters, Nicola Sturgeon must loudly oppose the proposed Cambo oil field and stop hiding behind Boris Johnson, who treats climate emergency and the need for a just transition for workers and communities like a big joke. If we start meeting our own climate targets in Scotland, we’ll be in a better position to demand quicker progress from other governments.”

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