IPCC Report issues final warning to end fossil fuel use to combat climate change

20 March 2023: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the Synthesis Report of the sixth assessment cycle and its summary for policymakers which warns of the urgent need for immediate action to combat climate change in vulnerable parts of the world, especially the South Asian region.

It stresses the fact that the window of time to keep global temperatures below 1.5ºC is fast closing. Limiting global heating is only possible through the constraint of fossil fuel production. It reminds governments to consider rapid and equitable fossil fuel phase-out plan as a top priority, and massively scale up investments in renewables and energy efficiency measures, and to wealthy nations to substantially increase their fair share of international climate finance.

The Synthesis Report which consolidates and summarizes the findings of previous reports published by the IPCC during the current cycle, will form the basis for political action to combat climate change. IPCC experts have previously warned that human-induced climate change is observed in all regions of the planet, and these climate and weather extremes are becoming more intense, with vulnerable communities especially in developing countries being disproportionately impacted; some of the emerging trends are already irreversible.

The report refers to the latest scientific research from around the world which shows that climate change is happening at an unprecedented rate and highlights the risks and impacts of climate change, and includes rising sea levels, more frequent and intense heat waves, and increased frequency of extreme weather events such as hurricanes, floods, and wildfires.

Sanjay Vashist, Director, Climate Action Network South Asia, said: “IPCC’s sixth assessment report is the final warning from scientists to governments that they have less than 10 years to act on climate change.  Over the last two decades IPCC scientists have provided irrefutable scientific evidence and plausible solutions to avert the climate crisis.  The latest report reiterates that phase out of fossil fuels in favour of low-carbon sources is ‘technically possible and is estimated to be relatively low in cost.’  Historical polluters, the developed and rich countries must act on science and take drastic and immediate actions by reducing their emissions and delivering on climate finance and technology to developing and poor countries.”

South Asia has been highly vulnerable to climate change. Rising sea levels and flooding threaten the coastal states of Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, while Afghanistan, Bhutan, and Nepal face rising temperatures, drought, and glacial melts. The island nation of the Maldives is the lowest lying country in the world – this densely populated country is in danger of being submerged in the not-too-distant future.

Almost 700 million people—nearly half of South Asia’s population—have been affected by at least one climate-related disaster in the last decade.

The city of Kolkata, home to more than 14 million inhabitants, is among the top 10 cities across the world that face the most dangerous multi-hazard risks like cyclones, floods, droughts, earthquakes, landslides and are most vulnerable to disaster-related mortality. The city recognised the need to endorse a rapid, equitable phase-out of fossil fuels, and in September 2022, the Kolkata Municipal Council endorsed a global call for a Fossil Fuel Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Mayor of Kolkata, Firhad Hakim, said: “Science has clearly and repeatedly rang the alarm bells that staying below 1.5ºC to avoid the worst scenarios of the climate emergency requires immediate and rapid action to end the use of fossil fuels. We need a rapid and equitable phase out of all kinds of fossil fuels to protect millions of people from energy and food insecurity, air pollution and impacts to health. Developing countries are the most vulnerable to climate change, despite us having historically contributed the least to the crisis. Kolkata has already announced its pledge to minimize the use of fossil fuel as much as possible and switch over to renewable energy.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change. It was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to provide policymakers with regular scientific assessments on climate change, its implications, and potential future risks, as well as to put forward adaptation and mitigation strategies. Since its inception, the IPCC has produced four multi-volume assessment reports.

For more information, contact:

Purnima Joshi, Communications Coordinator, CAN South Asia. purnima@cansouthasia.net

Divyanshi Yadav, Communications Officer, CAN South Asia. divyanshi@cansouthasia.net