One of the most important lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic is that when scientists are warning about a looming threat, we all ought to listen. Indeed, scientists have been sounding the alarm on the climate crisis for decades, and for decades we have hit the ‘snooze’ button, delaying action and turning a blind eye to its increasingly devastating impacts. Today’s report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sends a clear signal that now is the time for world leaders to finally wake up and take action. We cannot wait any longer.
The severe and widespread consequences of continuing to spew greenhouse gases into the atmosphere have never been starker. Just this year, we’ve seen devastating heatwaves, historic droughts, and wildfires and floods that have wiped out entire towns. As the IPCC report makes clear, many of these impacts are now a part of our new normal. But importantly, the report also makes it clear that we still have a path forward to limit temperature rise to 1.5°C, though that path becomes narrower by the day.
Now is our moment to heed the warnings of the world’s scientists and take bold action to reduce global emissions. We have the solutions we need to rapidly transition to a net-zero economy, and I am optimistic that we will meet this moment. But we cannot rely on vague pledges with distant deadlines. We need concrete plans to phase out fossil fuels in the near term. The science is clear: there is no time left to waste.