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UN calls for massive fossil fuel shutdowns to avert ‘climate time bomb’

The United Nations (UN) released its latest climate change report on Monday which doubled the risks of global warming and which the intergovernmental organization called a “survival guide for humanity”.

The summary report, assembled by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), represents the latest attempt by the UN to sound the alarm about the risks posed by climate change and not to take aggressive measures to stop global warming. According to the document, “unsustainable energy and land use” has caused a warming of 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, close to the emergency threshold of 1.5 degrees.

“The rate of temperature increase over the past half-century is the highest in 2,000 years,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in a video message on Monday. “Carbon dioxide concentrations are at their highest in at least two million years. The climate time bomb is on. But today’s IPCC report is a practical guide to defusing the time bomb climate. It’s a survival guide for humanity.”

“As he shows, the 1.5 degree limit is achievable. But it will be a quantum leap in climate action,” he continued. “This report is a clarion call to massively accelerate climate action by every country and every sector and by every deadline. In short, our world needs climate action on all fronts – everything, everywhere, everywhere. time.”


UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres listens to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a meeting in Moscow, Russia April 26, 2022. (Vladimir Astapkovich, Sputnik, Kremlin swimming pool photo via AP)

The report says that each additional increment of warming that occurs will lead to “rapidly escalating dangers” for humanity.

For example, he warned that climate change will bring more intense heat waves, heavier rainfall and other extreme risks to human health and ecosystems. And food insecurity will increase while additional conflicts and pandemics will be more difficult to manage, according to the report.

“Mainstreaming effective and equitable climate action will not only reduce loss and damage to nature and people, but also bring wider benefits,” IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee said in a statement. “This summary report underscores the urgency of taking more ambitious action and shows that if we act now, we can still secure a sustainable and livable future for all.”

“Transformational changes are more likely to succeed where there is trust, where everyone is working together to prioritize risk reduction, and where benefits and burdens are shared equitably,” Lee added. “We live in a diverse world where everyone has different responsibilities and different opportunities to bring about change. Some can do a lot while others will need support to help them manage change.”


The IPCC report further calls for massive investment in clean energy and an immediate phase-out of fossil fuels globally. The UN has also called on Western countries to increase the amount of capital and finance they dedicate to climate investments.

US climate envoy John Kerry attends a UN climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, November 12, 2021.

US climate envoy John Kerry attends a UN climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, November 12, 2021. (REUTERS/Yves Hermann)

At the last UN climate conference in November, nations pledged billions of dollars in climate finance to developing countries and rallied to call on private investors to boost climate finance.

However, fossil fuels, coal, oil and natural gas, still account for the vast majority of global energy consumption, according to the latest data from the International Energy Agency. The three sources produce nearly 70% of all the world’s energy and a large majority of electricity production which represents an additional 17% of the energy produced.


“Every country must be part of the solution,” António Guterres added on Monday. “Demanding that others act first only ensures that humanity comes last. The Acceleration Agenda calls for a number of other actions. Specifically: No New Coal and the phasing out of coal from by 2030 in OECD countries and 2040 in all other countries private financing of coal.

“Cease all licensing or financing of new oil and gas – in accordance with the findings of the International Energy Agency,” he continued. “Stop all expansion of existing oil and gas reserves. Shift from fossil fuel subsidies to a just energy transition. Establish a global phased reduction in existing oil and gas production consistent with the global net zero goal of 2050. “

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