Enough money currently exists to rapidly lower greenhouse gas emissions right now through "multiple, feasible and effective options", but existing barriers have to be reduced, according to the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report.
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The UN-backed IPCC's final entry of its sixth assessment cycle, which examined the current state of play in relation to global climate change, concluded that five years after it highlighted the "unprecedented scale" of keeping global warming to 1.5C, that challenge has become even greater due to a continued increase in greenhouse gas emissions.
The pace and scale of what has been done so far, as well as current plans, are insufficient to tackle climate change, the IPCC said.
The latest so-called "synthesis report" of the IPCC's sixth assessment cycle, which is comprised of dozens of the world's leading scientists including Maynooth University's professor of geography Peter Thorne, was agreed after a week of intense negotiations on the wording.
Accelerated action to adapt to climate change is essential in the rest of this decade to close the gap, all the while keeping warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, it said.
That 1.5C requires deep, rapid and sustained greenhouse gas emissions reductions in all sectors, the IPCC added.
Emissions should be decreasing by now and will need to be cut by almost half by 2030, if warming is to be limited to 1.5C.
IPCC chair Hoesung Lee said: “This Synthesis Report underscores the urgency of taking more ambitious action and shows that, if we act now, we can still secure a liveable sustainable future for all.”
The world is currently at 1.1C above pre-industrial levels after more than a century of burning fossil fuels as well as unequal and unsustainable energy and land use, leading to extreme weather events in every part of the world, the IPCC said.
"Every increment of warming results in rapidly escalating hazards. More intense heatwaves, heavier rainfall and other weather extremes further increase risks for human health and ecosystems. In every region, people are dying from extreme heat. Climate-driven food and water insecurity is expected to increase with increased warming."
When the risks combine with other adverse events, such as pandemics or conflicts, they become even more difficult to manage, it warned.
Aditi Mukherji, one of the 93 authors of the synthesis report, said those who have contributed least to climate change are being disproportionately affected.
"Almost half of the world’s population lives in regions that are highly vulnerable to climate change. In the last decade, deaths from floods, droughts and storms were 15 times higher in highly vulnerable regions,“ she added.
There is sufficient global capital to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions if existing barriers are reduced, according to the report.
Increasing finance to climate investments is important to achieve global climate goals, it said.
"Governments, through public funding and clear signals to investors, are key in reducing these barriers. Investors, central banks and financial regulators can also play their part. There are tried and tested policy measures that can work to achieve deep emissions reductions and climate resilience if they are scaled up and applied more widely.
"Political commitment, coordinated policies, international cooperation, ecosystem stewardship and inclusive governance are all important for effective and equitable climate action," the IPCC said.