The UN’s climate science body, the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, has released its much-awaited report on global warming, and its message is clear: we must act now to prevent the worst of the climate catastrophe. Read the executive summary here.
The planet is warming much more quickly, and the results are much more dire, than previously thought. Exceeding the 1.5°C threshold could cause a severe decline in crop yields, marine life, and species survival. Elevated oceanic temperatures could bring about the near-total loss of our coral reefs, and extreme heat could impact nearly 40% of the world’s population through increased occurrences of severe drought.
In order to avoid such catastrophic events, immediate and coordinated action is needed to dial carbon emissions to zero within the next few decades. It will require much more than meeting the national climate goals set in the Paris Agreement. It will require ambitious goal-setting and decisive action from every sector, at every level–from governments and businesses to local communities and individuals.
The good news is that solutions are technologically feasible, if only we’ll act on them. GCCM Executive Director Tomás Insua says, “We already know how to tackle climate change: it’s easier, cheaper and a moral imperative to keep dirty fossil fuels in the ground now than clean up our atmosphere later. Our vulnerable brothers and sisters need solutions right now–every moment wasted is a tragedy for them and for the generations coming. Our faith teaches us that we must care for creation and those who share it, so we urge our leaders to take this report as a wake-up call. The future is calling, and it wants action now to keep global temperature rise within 1.5°C.”
As Catholics, we find hope in one another and in God. As Pope Francis said, “Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home.” (Laudato Si’, 13) Let us continue to pray and to take bold, courageous action to protect our common home and all who share it. This urgent call is for all of us, and the time to answer is now.