The head of the United Nations labelled a devastating new report on climate change as a “code red for humanity” as the renewables sector said a deeper, faster energy transition must now be a top priority globally.
UN secretary general António Guterres said latest analysis by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “must sound a death knell for coal and fossil fuels, before they destroy our planet… countries should also end all new fossil fuel exploration and production, and shift fossil fuel subsidies into renewable energy.
“The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk.”
Guterres’ comments came as the IPCC issued its starkest warning yet that catastrophic impacts of global heating are already being seen around the world, with only “immediate, strong and large-scale” emissions cuts able to keep warming within 1.5 degrees.
Some of the effects are already irreversible, said the IPCC as it presented the work of thousands of experts in the most comprehensive analysis yet of the climate emergency.
The COP26 climate summit in Glasgow is now widely being spoken of as the last chance to secure meaningful action.
Guterres said: “By 2030, solar and wind capacity should quadruple and renewable energy investments should triple to maintain a net zero trajectory by mid-century.
“If we combine forces now, we can avert climate catastrophe. But, as today’s report makes clear, there is no time for delay and no room for excuses. I count on government leaders and all stakeholders to ensure COP26 is a success.”
The renewable energy sector said the IPCC study should be a last-ditch wake-up call for policymakers.
Francesco La Camera, director general of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) said: “Choices we make today will have a far-reaching impact. Only an energy transition grounded in renewable & efficient technologies gives us a realistic option for a climate-safe world.”
Industry group WindEurope said the IPCC study is a “saddening read” with net zero emissions and an accelerated energy transition the only solution to global heating.
The IPCC analysis follows calls by the International Energy Agency (IEA) to end new fossil fuel projects amid sobering analysis that suggests power sector emissions will actually rise to record levels in 2022 despite massive renewable energy growth as Asian economies continue to expand their coal fleets.