We need to start transforming — now

By Nigel Topping and Gonzalo Munoz, UN High Level Climate Champions | August 9, 2021

We are in a race. A race to a healthier, fairer, more resilient, zero carbon world. A race against the dangerous idea that we can’t do this, that there is no way.

The IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report is a clear and sober reflection of our current pace. The global climate is changing faster than we had previously thought, and this report puts into words what we can already see today from our own windows.

In the last months alone, devastating weather extremes have hit regions across the world, with unprecedented events following one after the other. From wildfires in Siberia to landslides in India, from flash floods in Belgium to deadly temperatures and drought in the US, there is not a place on earth that isn’t already feeling the impacts of our worsening climate crisis.

And all this is from 1.1 degrees Celsius of warming, far below the 1.5 degree goal of the Paris Agreement signed only six years ago. What we’re already seeing today confirms that every fraction of a degree — every second of delay — counts. It counts in terms of lives lost, homes burned down and flooded. In terms of trillions of dollars’ worth of destruction.

We are already running late.  But if we move now — and quickly — we can still create a healthier, fairer, more resilient and ultimately more liveable zero carbon world. A world of wellbeing, where the air is fresher, our jobs are well-paid and dignified, and we thrive even in the face of climate shocks and stresses that we already experience. But we won’t win this race unless we see a dramatic step-change in ambition, and more importantly, immediate action — as a central part of our recovery from Covid-19.

As UN High Level Climate Champions, we applaud the thousands of businesses, cities, states, regions, financial, educational and healthcare institutions who have stepped up and joined the race even during this unprecedented pandemic. Their commitments and actions show what is possible, with clarity of vision and bold leadership. Thanks to their efforts, we are close to reaching breakthroughs in ambition across nearly 15 sectors of the global economy.

But commitment is not enough, we need to start transforming — now. Ambition must be followed by immediate action in line with halving global emissions by 2030 if we are to deliver a healthier, more resilient, zero carbon world in time.

Less than 100 days from COP26, the science couldn’t be clearer. Every decision, every day and every fraction of a degree counts.

Together we can do this, if we act now.

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