New UN climate report: Political decision-makers must treat climate change as what it is—an emergency

August 9, 2021

The IPCC—the world’s authority on climate science—just released the first of three instalments of a new report. The contents are disturbing; they show a world in the middle of a climate emergency with a predicted increase in fires, extreme weather events, droughts and sea level rise. Unless we take immediate and significant action to reduce emissions from fossil fuels, this report predicts that we will soon surpass the strict threshold of 1.5 degrees of warming required to keep us from irreversible climate chaos.

What does this mean for policymakers, and what does it mean for all of us? First, the report is a clear call to a level of action we have never seen before. It’s time for our political decision-makers to treat climate change as what it is—an emergency.

Responding to an emergency looks very much like how we treated COVID-19 this past year: it means sparing no expense, creating a strong social safety net, and putting in place mandatory emergency measures when needed.

We must put an immediate end to fossil fuel expansion, and we must halt existing projects like the harmful Trans Mountain pipeline. We must stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry.

We must protect our most advanced climate technology: old-growth forests.

We must restore authority and land stewardship to Indigenous peoples, whose thousands of years of knowledge kept these lands in balance and resilient to climate change.

The IPCC report contains what we already knew—that we are in a climate emergency. But it sharply highlights that we have run out of time for moderate climate action. The time for bold action for climate justice is now, and it’s only a matter of political will (and the will of the people) to make it happen.

Featured image by BC Wildfire Service.