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Amid disasters, new climate predictions are long overdue

As images of floods and fires grab headlines around the world, United Nations climate experts release their long-awaited new climate forecast on Monday, three months before the COP26 climate conference, which is crucial to the world’s future.

After two weeks of closed and virtual meetings, 195 countries agreed on Friday to this first comprehensive assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in seven years, whose “summary for decision makers” was negotiated line by line and word for word.

Amid a torrent of disasters on the planet, from floods in Germany and China to monster fires in Europe and North America, to frenetic temperatures in Canada, scientists unveiled these new assessments Monday at 08:00 GMT and predictions about rising global temperatures. rising ocean levels or even the intensification of extreme events.

“This would be the most stark warning ever that human behavior is alarmingly accelerating global warming,” COP26 chief Alok Sharma said in an interview with the Observer, Sunday edition of the Guardian.

The British minister added that this report “would serve as a wake-up call to all those who have not yet understood why the next decade must be absolutely crucial in terms of climate action,” noting that “we are getting dangerously close to the moment” when it is too late to act.

– ‘Change direction’ –

At the opening of the IPCC session at the end of July, UN climate director Patricia Espinosa also insisted on the need to move quickly.

“The truth is that we are not on track to meet the Paris Agreement goal of limiting warming to +1.5°C by the end of the century. In fact, we are on the way. On the contrary, we are heading towards more than +3°C. We must change direction dramatically. Urgent before it’s too late,” she had cried.

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“I say this to decision makers: Science does not allow us to see the world as we wish it to be, it shows the world as it is. This is not politics, it is reality,” she added.

By signing the Paris Agreement in 2015, almost all countries of the planet committed to reducing carbon dioxide emissions in order to limit warming “significantly lower” by +2 ° C compared to pre-industrial times, if possible + 1.5 ° C.

While the planet has already warmed by about 1.1°C and every fraction of a degree increases its share of additional extreme events, this +1.5°C threshold has since become a priority target for many activists and political leaders.

But can we manage not to overtake it? This is one of the central questions that the IPCC report, which is based on thousands of recent scientific studies, will address.

“If we don’t reduce our emissions in the next decade, we won’t succeed. It’s likely that +1.5°C will be reached between 2030 and 2040, so those are our best estimates today,” climate scientist Robert Vautard, one of the authors of this first part of the assessment, said. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change told AFP before the session began in July.

Hoping to limit warming to +1.5 degrees Celsius, emissions must be reduced by an average of 7.6% each year, between 2020 and 2030, according to the United Nations. And while 2020 saw a decline of this magnitude due to the pandemic, a recovery is expected.

Two more parts of the IPCC assessment are due to be published in 2022. The part on impacts, of which AFP obtained a preliminary copy, shows how life on Earth will inevitably change in thirty years, or even sooner. The third relates to solutions to reduce emissions.

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