UN report on climate

ByElsa Sc S

Doing her graduation from LUMS & a keen researcher


June 11, 2022

UN Report on Climate

Elsa Sc S brings to fore the concerns of the premier global body

The UN report on climate are very clear that there should be no delay in taking steps aimed at stopping catastrophic temperature rises and a breakdown of the climate systems on which the human life depends. They are pointing out to reports of bomb-like blizzards and searing droughts and paint a terrifying picture of the possible reality of climate change. It is, however, a sad fact that not enough attention is paid to this crucial aspect of human life. As weather gets worse across the globe, the efforts to tackle it are simply not at par with the change. It is widely acknowledged that climate is the average of weather over time and Earth has a long and dramatic history of natural climate change. While major climatic swings are nothing new to the Earth, they have been incredibly destructive in the past and the current insatiable appetite for fossil fuels is setting in motion a rapid swing that could have dire consequences for humanity.

Modern records reveal an unnatural global warming trend taking hold of Earth’s climate in recent decades. By burning fossil fuels, humans are sending heat-trapping carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that are raising global temperatures. Experimental data and climate models suggest this warming will affect weather in a variety of ways, making it hotter and colder, more extreme and more chaotic. In this context it is pointed out that as the world gets warmer, more water evaporates from the surface of dry areas and increases precipitation in wet areas meaning that dry areas get drier and wet areas get wetter. More moisture in the atmosphere in a warming planet can also lead to heavier snowfall during the winter.

The current experience is of hurricanes as well as tropical cyclones around the world as examples of worsening weather. The worry is that climate variables are becoming severe and intense. Meanwhile, record-breaking weather events, such as the 2018 heatwave in Japan that killed more than 1,000 people, are likely to become more common. Furthermore, although it sounds counterintuitive, global warming could be causing colder snaps as a warming Arctic and disruptions to the swirling cold winds above it called the polar vortex is linked to more extreme winters in the Northern Hemisphere. Climate change may have the potential to disrupt the weather systems so much that Earth turns into a chaotic world that cannot be fixed. It is opined that if carbon emissions are not reduced then humans run the risk of Earth’s temperature fluctuating chaotically in a way that is impossible to predict.

In this respect it is required to look at the steps taken to tackle such scenario. Nations around the world signed up to the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015 and agreed to keep warming preferably below 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) and well below 3.6 F (2 C) but, in 2022, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres said the 1.5-degree goal was on “life support” and with continued emissions, the human race is sleepwalking to climate catastrophe. World leaders need to ensure that global carbon dioxide emissions begin declining by 2025 and are halved by 2030 if the world is to stay within 1.5 C of warming otherwise it is likely that irreversible climate breakdown becomes unavoidable. The policies currently in place to tackle the climate crisis around the world will lead to catastrophic climate breakdown, as governments have failed to take the actions needed to fulfill their promises.

There is a stark gap between what governments have promised to do to protect the climate and the measures and policies needed to achieve the targets. At the Cop26 summit last November, countries agreed to bring forward plans to limit global heating to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels – the limit of safety, according to scientists. They have so far submitted pledges that would limit temperatures to under 2C. But the policies and measures passed and implemented by governments would lead to far greater temperature rises, of at least 2.7C, well beyond the threshold of relative safety and potentially as much as 3.6C. That would have catastrophic impacts, in the form of extreme weather, sea-level rises and irreversible changes to the global climate.

The myriad reports of extreme weather witnessed in 2022 suggest there is no time to waste. The further climate change progresses, the more the world will see in future are more ruined harvests and more food insecurity, along with a host of other problems including rises in sea level, threats to water security, drought and desertification. Actions by developed countries have so far been disappointing, in their failure to reduce emissions fast enough, and in not making finance available to poorer countries to help them cope with the impacts of climate breakdown. What is required is strong governmental efforts aimed at renewing their resolve, despite frosty geopolitics before it is too late. TW

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