UN warns climate change happening faster than globe can adapt

The United Nations (UN’s) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), warned of large gaps between ongoing efforts to adapt, such as building sea walls or creating drought-resistant crops, and the action required to address the growing risks of climate change.

To avoid mounting loss of life, biodiversity and infrastructure, the IPCC panel urged ambitious and accelerated action to adapt to climate change, as well as making rapid, deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions.

This is contained in a report released yesterday, the second of its three multiyear reports, following a release last November ahead of the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland.

Rather than focus on how countries and cities can cut emissions in the future, this round drilled down on short-term crises around the world in places under immediate threat and with no funding to act. And it called out the oil and gas industries in particular.

For environmental groups, private-sector champions of green technology and many policy-makers, the globe’s oil habit, Brent Crude Oil Continuous Contract Overview (BRN00), along with the financial system’s propensity to finance that habit and government reluctance to cut fossil-fuel subsidies, all have to end.

The energy industry itself has maintained that it has the scale to help with the push to renewables and the inclusion of carbon-emissions capture and storage and other technologies that could “clean up” the sector.

The U.N. release hits with all eyes on the Russian-Ukraine crisis and what, for the rest of Europe in particular, is a sobering reckoning with reliance on Russian natural gas NG00, -0.32% even as a push toward renewable solar, wind, nuclear, hydrogen and other sources continues.

Russia-Ukraine conflicts

“As current events make all too clear, our continued reliance on fossil fuels makes the global economy and energy security vulnerable to geopolitical shocks and crises,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said on Monday.

“Adaptation saves lives and delay means deaths,” he said at a press conference.”

But there is also good news; we know precisely how to reclaim our futures from the fossil fuel industry by pushing financial institutions to cut off funding and closing the doors for Big Oil.

Burden on developing nations

So far, progress on adaptation is uneven and there are increasing gaps between action taken and what is needed to deal with the increasing risks, the new report found. Those gaps were largest among lower-income populations.

Market Watch reports that the series of reports, which can help set everything from global emissions targets to disaster insurance reviews to the next trend in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing ESGU, -0.18% — brought together hundreds of the world’s leading scientists and are issued every five to seven years.

“This IPCC report proves the cause of the problem: fossil fuels did this. But there is also good news, we know precisely how to reclaim our futures from the fossil fuel industry XOM, +0.75% CVX, +2.58%: by pushing financial institutions to cut off funding and closing the doors for Big Oil,” said May Boeve, Executive Director of 350.org, an activist group and climate justice advocacy.

The latest report “will help investors move from the ‘what’ to the ‘how’, opening the door for deeper conversations on impact investing, direction for policymakers, and the fact that incremental change is not enough,” said Aniket Shah, global head of ESG and sustainable finance, at Jefferies.

“The IPCC’s report is the most comprehensive synthesis on the physical science of climate change ever written, approved by 195 governments and based on more than 14,000 studies.”

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