When a company releases its yearly earnings report, the shareholders quickly and seriously respond.

This is because the report is reflective of what worked and the way forward. How should we respond when we get a damning report card on the state of nature? We move to change the ending while we still can.

Photo by FOX from Pexels

A new global climate science report, published yesterday, confirms that humans have irreversibly altered the planet. The opportunity to reverse course, while very slim, is scientifically still possible if urgent and strong action to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and protect and restore nature is taken immediately.

In strong contradiction to the economists who keep saying that the fundamentals remain sound, the report says that life is headed for multiple large-scale tragedies since nature – the most fundamental thing there is, has been irreversibly transformed.

The report by the Working Group I of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science, provides the most up-to-date understanding of the physical climate system, bringing together the latest advances in climate science. It is the first of four contributions to the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6).

The report brings together multiple lines of evidence showing that the window of opportunity to limit global temperature rise to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels – the most ambitious target of the Paris Agreement – is rapidly closing.

With global warming reaching 1.1°C, the world is already seeing devastating consequences of delayed climate action clearer than ever: from wildfires in Turkey to floods in Europe and China, heatwaves in North America to devastating drought in Madagascar. The science now makes it possible to directly link the increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events to climate change.

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines Executive Director Katherine Custodio said, “The new report continues to paint an alarming picture of what we are already seeing as impacts of the climate crisis at global warming of around 1.1˚C. For a vulnerable country such as the Philippines, as the temperature needle moves towards 1.5˚C, we will experience increasing dangers to our people and our ecosystems – increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as typhoons, floods, and drought, sea-level rise, among others.”

The Philippines ranks as #4 in the World Climate Change Risk Index losing over US$3 billion from 2010-2019 alone to over 300 events tied to the climate crisis. The immeasurable cost of lives affected and the sorrow and sufferings akin to them are not included in the charts and figures of the report.

Atty. Angela Ibay, Climate and Energy Programme Head for the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines said, “We have very little time so we need to act now. We have to scale up action in both adaptation and mitigation and to implement our commitments under the Paris Agreement to be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5˚C. These include protection of and investing in nature, ramping up the clean energy transition through renewables and energy
efficiency, revamping our food, water, energy, and even finance systems to value nature as part of the life sustainability equation. We can still – and must – change the ending.”