In the wake of the IPCC report being released, Caroline Lucas warned that delay is not an option, we must take action for the climate now.
In an article for The Independent, she wrote ‘there is a limited time left to avert the worst impacts of the climate crisis and governments must seize it’.
‘French author Victor Hugo wrote: “It is a sad thing to think that nature speaks and mankind does not listen”. Now, 150 years later, nature is no longer speaking to us – it is shouting. And governments still aren’t listening.
Extreme weather events are breaking out all over the world: sweltering heat in North America, mudslides in India, deadly floods in Europe and China, terrifying wildfires in Greece, and the Amazon emitting more carbon dioxide than the forest can absorb.
In the UK, the Met Office warned last month that the extreme weather we saw across the UK in July is now the norm. The impacts of climate change are not something which will only impact future generations, they are here now.
Three months ahead of the UK-hosted UN climate summit, we now have the opinion of the world’s leading climate scientists on the extent to which we have already warmed the planet and set in train those extreme weather events. World leaders, preparing for Cop26, shouldn’t need a reminder of why they need to do far more than their current plans; but if they do, this terrifyingly stark IPCC report provides it.
It shows that the impacts of human activity on the climate are accelerating, whether they be extreme weather events, melting ice caps or sea level rise. Outcomes like ice-sheet collapse, which were given a low likelihood in the last report eight years ago, are now considered real possibilities.
What’s striking about this IPCC report is the blunt language it uses. In the 30 years since the first paper, the language has gone from advising that the impacts of global warming would not be noticeable for a decade or more, to warning that some of the climate changes already set in motion, including sea level rise, are irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years.
That is how fast the climate is changing, and how devastating the impacts are for all of us.
This is the year when rhetoric and pledges on climate must be turned into action plans. Delay is not an option – there is a limited time left to avert the worst impacts of climate change and governments must seize it.
Yet the UK government’s strategy is to cross its fingers and wait in the hope that something will turn up which will get us off the disastrous path we are now on. It sets plenty of targets, but they are rarely followed up with policies for reaching those targets, let alone the necessary investment to decarbonise and transform our economy.’