Scientists offer dire warning on climate change.
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—whose predictions so far have consistently underestimated climate change—say it is now or never. A new report, authored by 91 researchers from 40 countries, warns that humanity stands on the brink of failure: If nations don’t join in massive immediate action, no aspect of human life will go unscathed. It will happen sooner than we think—even if governments abide by their Paris Agreement commitments.
Heatwaves, droughts, rising seas, floods, and the spread of infectious diseases will impact every corner of the world, sparking unprecedented migrations and increased risk of wars. Merely to sustain our current climate, the report reads, requires “rapid and far-reaching transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport and cities.”
Some governments responded with a call for renewed global effort. Business is increasingly acknowledging that climate change impacts pose significant risk. S&P Global Ratings reported that in 2017, 15% of companies on the S&P 500 disclosed an effect on earnings from weather events—for 18 of them, the impact was a significant 6% on average. Those are just the ones disclosing.
RE100, a collaborative initiative launched in 2014, has companies from around the world—not only Western progressive icons such as Ikea but industrial brands such as India’s Tata Motors Limited—signed on to goals of 100% renewable power. The Science Based Targets Initiative has similarly attracted a range of companies making pledges, including Bancolombia and Banorte Group in Latin America, Safaricom in Africa, and Japanese retailer AEON.
Given the report’s dire warnings, however, their willing efforts won’t go far enough, fast enough. Corporate target dates are 10, 15, 30 years out. The IPCC says we must act within two years. Policywise, carbon would eventually have to be taxed as high as $27,000 per ton, the IPCC says, and coal would have to be reduced to between 1% and 7% of total energy. The Trump administration—which pulled the US out of the Paris climate deal last year—was predictably skeptical. But again, prior IPCC reports turned out to have been overly optimistic.