The world’s latest climate report spells ‘code red’ for humanity, UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres has said, while oil stocks go down the drain.
The report, by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), found that recent “human influence” on the world’s warming climate system has been “unprecedented over many centuries to many thousands of years”.
Confederation of British Industry (CBI) chief policy director, Matthew Fell, urged that the UN’s flagship climate conference in November, COP26 – which the UK is due to host, should trigger “urgent action” to combat this warming.
“If anybody still had any doubts to the scale of the climate crisis, this report must surely put those to bed.
“COP26 must be the trigger for more, urgent action from countries around the world. It requires joint efforts by governments, businesses and consumers.”
The work needed to ensure the world does not surpass 1.5C of warming, as outlined in the 2015 Paris Agreement, will require the input of all 51 COP26 attending countries.
Manager of the investment firm M&G’s Climate Solutions Fund, Randeep Somel, said the IPCC’s conclusions “could not be clearer”.
“This report should hopefully be a stark reminder to all the leaseholders of our planet, be they consumers, industry or governments, that action needs to be taken sooner, and that we all have our part to play.”
Climate lead at environmental campaign group Friends of the Earth, Connor Schwartz, urged that now we are at 1.1C of climate warming globally – “Every fraction of a degree now matters more than ever.”
“If we want a habitable planet, the window is just about still open, that’s today’s report in a nutshell.”
Just like the world combined efforts to find a vaccine for Covid-19, global efforts must be combined to tackle climate change, chair of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group (CCAG), Sir David King, explained.
“We need to combine efforts on a global scale now, much like the world has come together to tackle Covid-19. We must act globally to implement safe methods and technologies to repair damaged climate systems while we urgently slash emissions reductions.
“Should we fail to act now with determination and speed, the price that will be paid by humanity and by our biosystems is far too steep to consider. We have systematically destroyed our planet’s ecosystem and with it our future: to save ourselves we must now repair the damage.”
A crucial step in humanity’s game plan to dodge climate disaster is reaching net zero – a pledge the UK government has said it will achieve by 2050.
While some countries have made an array of net zero promises, which span a net zero end goal between 2035 and 2050, analysts have cautioned that being carbon neutral by mid-century will be too late.
“Countries need to transition to a net zero emissions framework much sooner,” Somel urged, adding that we already have the tools needed to achieve it.
“We have the climate solution tools available to us whether it be the transition to renewable energy, adoption of electric vehicles, improving building efficiency, increasing levels of recycling and the incorporation of greener technology for industrial processes.”
Fell explained that businesses in the UK understand that they play a vital role in the country reach its zero-carbon target but urged more businesses to step up their climate commitments.
“Committing to and achieving net zero is paramount and the UK must look to lead by example, establishing the policy and tax frameworks to make it possible,” the CBI boss explained.
“Businesses understand the vital role they must play and many are putting net zero plans in place. We need to see more of those commitments and acting on the pledges made, as soon as possible.”
Beyond net zero, climate lead Schwartz urged that the UK must stop its investments in fossil fuel-reliant projects.
“If the government wants to show they respect the world’s leading scientists on climate chaos, they can start by cancelling the Cambo oil field, scrapping the coal mine in Cumbria, and ending UK funding for the mega-gas project in Mozambique: they can do that today.”
An increasing number of businesses are being persuaded to consider their climate impacts, but carbon-reliant mining, energy and automotive industries have been more reluctant to make the pivot towards greener practices.
Green investment will be key to incentivising businesses in carbon-rich sectors, Somel added, explaining that science-based targets should be adopted across the board.
“As investors, we need to continue pushing companies to adopt science-based targets for their own emissions.
“We need to encourage highly pollutive companies to transition their business models to more sustainable paths, and we also need to channel capital to those companies that are researching and providing the climate solution tools that we all need to adopt.”
The CBI boss’ suggestion of a tax framework to ensure a net zero future even has carbon-reliant economies like Australia reluctant.
Australia, which is forecast to pull in some $123.1bn from iron ore exports this year according to industry analysts IBISWorld, saw its energy and emissions reduction minister last week urging against a carbon tax plan suggested by the European Union.
Consumers and the private sector
For the regular consumer, reading of the human influence over the warming climate can be overwhelming and confusing, particularly when consumers are unsure of what they can do to help.
CEO of Good Energy Nigel Pocklington said that although the IPCC’s warnings are “stark”, there is a practical “antidote” to climate anxiety – beyond simply hoping for the best.
“Many people will be feeling overwhelmed, but the good news is that it is equally unequivocal that we need human action to avert the worst.
“The best antidote to anxiety about the climate crisis is to do something — like switching to real renewable power or clean transport.”
While it is important to note the different weight in impacts in comparison with individuals and businesses, consumers must also partake in climate action, director of Sustainable Capital, Kevin Haines said.
“While there are certain things that only governments and supranational organisations can make an impact on, it is crucial that we see buy-in to climate action across society, from individuals to businesses.
“The private sector has a huge part to play in innovating and kickstarting projects which are environmentally constructive and governments must therefore ensure that investors are empowered to direct funds towards projects that are in line with just transition principles.”