The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations' top climate science body, reiterates the urgency of meeting the threat of environmental destruction because the extent and magnitude of its impact are larger than estimated in previous assessments. The scientists behind the report note that human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels are warming the planet, causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world. The scientists add that people and ecosystems which are least able to cope with the change are being hit hardest. The IPCC report reconfirms the dual impact of climate change. No country, rich or poor, can escape environmental degradation and eventual ecological destruction. However, climate change also exacerbates the economic and other inequities of power that make life on earth miserable for millions already. In drawing attention to these inequalities in a shared world, the report urges nations, whatever their other problems might be, to adopt a holistic attitude to nothing less than the future of the human presence on the planet.
Climate change is not a cyclical economic downturn or even a structural geopolitical issue: It is an existential challenge to the future of humanity itself. That challenge is immediate as well because the world faces unavoidable multiple climate hazards over the next two decades with global warming of 1.5°C. Even temporarily exceeding this warming level would result in further, severe consequences.