Assessment shows urgent need to stop using fossil fuels quickly

VANCOUVER | TRADITIONAL, UNCEDED TERRITORIES OF THE xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (MUSQUEAM), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (SQUAMISH) AND səlilwətaɬ (TSLEIL-WAUTUTH) FIRST NATIONS — World leaders have been given a stark analysis and urgent call to action on the extent and severity of global heating with the release of a report from the world’s leading authority on climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its sixth and most recent assessment report yesterday.

It further confirms that the climate crisis is “unequivocally” caused by human activity; specifically, burning fossil fuels like fracked (“natural”) gas, coal and gasoline, as well as deforestation. It also shows that carbon pollution is surrounding Earth like a heat-trapping blanket and is warming the planet more quickly than anticipated, leading to more intense and dangerous extreme weather events like heat waves, droughts and precipitation events. Unless we stop burning fossil fuels, the report says, the planet is on track to exceed the 1.5 C heating limit at the basis of the Paris Agreement within the next 20 years. Current levels of climate action promised by the 197 nations that signed the Paris agreement are insufficient.

“This report describes the extreme weather emergency we are facing and is a call for immediate, unprecedented action,” David Suzuki Foundation acting executive director Ian Bruce said. “This report also reminds us that our actions matter. The severity of climate consequences is not a matter of chance. Our future will be determined by the choices we make now to eliminate our fossil fuel emissions and transition to a safer, clean energy economy. We send our deepest thanks to the courageous first responders who have been protecting our communities this summer from the extreme heat, drought and fires wreaking havoc throughout the country. For those looking to do their part to address the root cause of this crisis, it’s time to ask all governments everywhere for bold and urgent climate action now.”

The report took eight years to produce, drawing on thousands of scientific papers. It is the most comprehensive assessment of the climate emergency published to date.

“With this report released on the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, let’s remember that we need climate solutions that uplift and include the perspectives of Indigenous Peoples,” Foundation incoming executive director Severn Cullis-Suzuki said. “In 2021, climate plans must be inclusive and justice-focused. Canada has committed to implementing the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and this crisis is a test to see what that commitment really means. Incorporating the leadership of those who have lived here for millennia sustainably — Indigenous Peoples — is an essential part of the solution.”

World leaders are set to meet in Glasgow this November for COP26, the next major UN climate conference. Leading up to the conference, governments around the world will face intense pressure to increase their commitments to reduce their carbon emissions. Canada’s current commitment is a reduction of 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

“As the pandemic has shown us, science-based decision-making must guide our approach to solving major crises, and nature is key to our survival as a species,” Bruce said. “Canada’s current climate promise to reduce fossil fuel emissions is an improvement, but the science tells us it’s not good enough. This federal election, let’s make sure the representatives we elect are ready to deliver stronger climate targets, strengthened laws to make sure we meet them and a just transition into a sustainable, resilient and equitable future for all. With Earth’s balance on the line, anything less is unacceptable.”

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