DATE: August 29, 2019
SNIP: The damage caused by catastrophic “superstorms” combined with rising sea levels could increase by a hundred-fold or more, displacing hundreds of millions of people from coastlines around the world unless more is done to limit greenhouse gas emissions, according to a draft report by the United Nations.
According to French news agency AFP, which said it had obtained a copy of the report, the document outlines a grim scenario in which the warming oceans are “poised to unleash misery on a global scale”, with declining fish stocks, the melting of sea ice and glaciers, and increasing levels of human displacement.
Unless there are serious cuts to man-made greenhouse gas emissions, at least 30 per cent of the northern hemisphere’s surface permafrost could melt within just 80 years, the report warns.
This melt would unleash billions of tonnes of carbon stored in what are currently permafrost areas, which will accelerate rates of global warming even more.
The upshot would be warming seas and rising coastlines, which could immediately threaten 280 million people, the document says.
Last week a report from the [UK] Science and Technology Select Committee said efforts to reduce emissions have been undermined by “unacceptable” cutbacks and delays, meaning we face “dire consequences”.
And on Thursday, the [UK] government’s chief environment scientist said the UK cannot hit its net zero emissions goal while ministers are fixed on economic growth as measured by GDP.
The US – the second biggest contributor of CO2 – is exiting the Paris agreement on climate change, under Donald Trump’s leadership.
China – the world’s biggest polluter – is making strong progress in renewable technologies, but has relaxed air pollution controls and coal use is creeping upwards.
In India, an enormous drive to open coal power plants is underway, though the country is also increasingly relying on solar-generated electricity.
And in the EU, progress towards a mid-century net zero goal is slow due to some member states’ reluctance to vote for policies legally requiring them to reduce emissions.