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by Jack Thomson
09 August 2021
UN report: Human influence on global warming unequivocal

A building in Greenville, California burns following a destructive forest fire | Image: Alamy

UN report: Human influence on global warming unequivocal

Scientists have said it is "unequivocal" that human influence has warmed the planet in a "sobering" UN report on climate change. 

Global warming of 1.5C and 2C will be exceeded this century unless deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions take place in the coming decades, the latest report published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has said.

The UK has called for urgent action on the back of the report, which says that climate change is already affecting every region across the globe.

Without action to limit warming, heatwaves, heavy precipitation, droughts, and loss of Arctic Sea ice, snow cover and permafrost, will all increase while carbon sinks will become less effective at slowing the growth of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The publication comes just months before world leaders are due to meet at COP26 in Glasgow in November.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "Today’s report makes for sobering reading, and it is clear that the next decade is going to be pivotal to securing the future of our planet. We know what must be done to limit global warming – consign coal to history and shift to clean energy sources, protect nature and provide climate finance for countries on the frontline.

"The UK is leading the way, decarbonising our economy faster than any country in the G20 over the last two decades. I hope today’s IPCC report will be a wake-up call for the world to take action now, before we meet in Glasgow in November for the critical COP26 summit."

Michael Matheson, the Scottish Government's net zero secretary, said the IPCC report showed "the very real threat and heightened risk" of the climate emergency to the planet.

He added: "It also makes clear that with immediate, concerted international action to reduce emissions, global temperature rise can still be limited.

"We will not get many more warnings before time runs out. COP26 in Glasgow represents the world’s best chance - perhaps one of our last chances - to avert the worst impacts of climate change.

"We must deliver on the principles of the Paris Agreement to secure a net zero future."

Alok Sharma, COP26 president, has been meeting with governments and businesses across the worlds as they try to coordinate action to help halve global emissions in the next decade and reach net zero by 2050.

However, today's report shows that more needs to be done immediately.

Some progress has been made since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015. More than 85 new or updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to 2030, representing over 110 parties, have been submitted to set out how countries will cut their emissions and address the climate crisis.

Responding to the report, Sharma said: "The science is clear, the impacts of the climate crisis can be seen around the world and if we don’t act now, we will continue to see the worst effects impact lives, livelihoods and natural habitats.

"Our message to every country, government, business and part of society is simple. The next decade is decisive, follow the science and embrace your responsibility to keep the goal of 1.5C alive."

Monica Lennon, Scottish Labour net zero spokeswoman, said it is "vital" that both the UK and Scottish governments act on the findings of the publication.

She added: "For starters, Nicola Sturgeon must loudly oppose the proposed Cambo oil field and stop hiding behind Boris Johnson, who treats climate emergency and the need for a just transition for workers and communities like a big joke. If we start meeting our own climate targets in Scotland, we’ll be in a better position to demand quicker progress from other governments.

"Climate emergency is the biggest challenge of our time, and that’s why Scottish Labour will continue to fight for the bold and urgent action that the public rightly expects both the UK and Scottish governments to take."

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