UK climate supremo: world running out of time on climate change

The world is “dangerously close” to running out of time to stop a climate change catastrophe, according to the UK government’s climate chief Alok Sharma.

Speaking to The Observer over the weekend, Sharma, (pic) who is leading COP26, the climate summit hosted by the UK this year, said the effects were already clear with floods, fires and heatwaves.

“We can’t afford to wait two years, five years, 10 years – this is the moment,” he told the paper.

Sharma said if urgent action was not taken, the consequences would be “catastrophic”.

“I don’t think there’s any other word for it,” he said. “You’re seeing on a daily basis what is happening across the world. Last year was the hottest on record, the last decade the hottest decade on record.”

“We’re seeing the impacts across the world – in the UK or the terrible flooding we’ve seen across Europe and China, or forest fires, the record temperatures that we’ve seen in North America. Every day you will see a new high being recorded in one way or another across the world.”

His comments were made ahead of a major report being released today (9 August) from the United Nations’ climate change researchers.

The report is set to be the strongest statement yet from the UN group on the science of climate change – and will likely give details about how the world’s oceans, ice caps and land will change in the next decades.

Sharma said the report released on Monday is “going to be the starkest warning yet that human behaviour is alarmingly accelerating global warming”.

“I don’t think we’re out of time but I think we’re getting dangerously close to when we might be out of time. We will see [from the IPCC] a very, very clear warning that unless we act now, we will unfortunately be out of time.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s forthcoming report on climate change is expected to be critical for the success of the Glasgow climate conference in November, COP26.

Nearly 200 nations started online negotiations this week to validate the UN science report, the first since the IPCC’s last comprehensive overview in 2014 of global warming, past and future.

Indeed, it is expected that the short, 40-page Summary for Policymakers will play an important role in guiding global leaders who will come to Glasgow in November to deal with critical climate questions for COP26.

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“We’re seeing the impacts across the world – in the UK or the terrible flooding we’ve seen across Europe and China, or forest fires, the record temperatures that we’ve seen in North America. Every day you will see a new high being recorded in one way or another across the world.”

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