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Science facts and human must acts


The science is clearer now than ever before. And the science is telling us that at even relatively low levels of warming, there will be serious impacts to people and the fragile ecosystems that sustain us. Indeed, we are already seeing this happening.

Climate Action representatives holding up a banner © Greenpeace/Jeremie SouteyratClimate Action representatives holding up a banner © Greenpeace/Jeremie Souteyrat

Even more warming will lead to even more serious consequences. These are the two options the report sets out in great level detail and with a high degree of scientific certainty.

In both options, all countries are at risk, but developing countries are at greatest risk if we do not take immediate and equitable action to cut emissions and invest in adaptation. This is the path that will ensure a just transition to a sustainable world. And I want to make a particular point here, about the cost of climate change.

The report talks about the economic cost of climate change. But the true cost of climate change cannot be represented just in monetary terms. There can be no cost put to losing a husband, a mother, a son or a daughter; there can be no cost to losing the home where, often, our previous generations settled hundreds of years ago; there can be no cost to losing an ecosystem that sustains our life and the life of the earth we call home. This is the true cost of inaction on climate change.

So it is worrying when you see that the gap between the science and the actions to stop climate change by governments is so huge. I believe it is now up to people to hold their governments accountable, and to demand they act purposefully and immediately.

The world is working towards a new global climate deal by December of 2015, and first steps towards this will be the Leadership Summit taking place in New York in September this year. Now it is up to the world’s leaders to take note of the findings of the IPCC report and to choose which world they want.

Coal smog over Taiyuan, Shanxi province, China © Thomas Haugersveen / WWF-NorwayCoal smog over Taiyuan, Shanxi province, China © Thomas Haugersveen / WWF-Norway

Then they have to put in place the necessary actions and resources. And if they do, then their choice and their obligations to cut emissions, increase finance and invest in adaptation are clear.

Scientists now tell us that the single biggest driver of climate change is now pollution from burning fossil fuels. There is only one way forward: We have to get off fossil fuels and move towards sustainable, renewable energy. If governments and industry refuse to do this, people and nature will continue to suffer the consequences of devastating climate instability.

The future is in our hands.

Sandeep Chamling Rai was the WWF Head of Delegation to the IPCC Working Group II meeting held in Yokohama, Japan in March 2014 scrai@wwf.sg

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