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IPCC: Nations vet solutions to climate crisis

March 21, 2022

The world is "sleepwalking to climate catastrophe," the head of the UN has warned as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change examines ways to keep greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere.

The Niederaussem coal-fired power plant against setting sun
Leading climate scientists warn the global economy must move from fossil fuels Image: Christoph Hardt/Geisler-Fotopress/picture alliance

UN chief Antonio Guterres criticized major economies on Monday for allowing carbon pollution to increase when drastic cuts are needed.

He said the world was "sleepwalking to climate catastrophe."

Guterres' comments to a sustainability summit in London came as nearly 200 nations gathered to discuss plans to reduce carbon emissions.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is finalizing a 3,000-page report for policymakers that will be published in two weeks.

What is on the IPCC agenda?

Scientists and government officials are examining plans to reduce and even remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere in an urgent effort to stop global warming.

"We are not on track to limit the temperature increase to a 1.5-degrees-Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit) limit," warned UN Deputy Secretary-General Ligia Noronha.

"We know that we are on the verge of a catastrophe," she added.

Representatives of the nearly 200 countries were meeting virtually to finalize the third and final report that the IPCC issued over the past eight months.

They were finishing a summary of the 3,000-page report for policymakers to be published on April 4.

The previous two have looked at the causes and impacts of the climate crisis.

Focus on global warming 'mitigation'

In the third report, scientists focused on ways in which critical sectors such as energy, transport, industry and agriculture can cut emissions.

"We are talking about the large-scale transformation of all the major systems," climate economist and co-author Celine Guivarch told the AFP news agency.

The global economy must move from fossil fuels to low- or zero-carbon energy sources, including solar, wind, nuclear, hydro and hydrogen, according to the report.

The mitigation report would also look more closely at ways of removing CO2 that is already in the atmosphere.

"The next few years will be crucial for the state of climate change in this century. This is why an updated assessment of mitigation is more important than ever," said Hoesung Lee, chairperson of the IPCC.

IPCC report a guide for policymakers

The mitigation report is the third and final part of the Sixth Assessment Report, an updated, comprehensive review of global knowledge of the climate crisis.

Much of the focus would be on short-term actions governments can take to keep the rise in global temperatures under 1.5 C this century.

A 1.5 C cap on global warming, the aspirational goal of the 2015 Paris climate accord, has been embraced as a target by most of the world's nations.

Recently renewed national carbon-cutting commitments still put the planet on a path toward 2.7 C of warming by 2100.

lo/rt (AFP, dpa)