Distinguished scientist Raymond Pierrehumbert, the lead author of the IPCC’s third assessment report, warned in 2019 that ‘it’s time to panic’ about the climate crisis. Those words only ring truer with the publication of the IPCC’s sixth assessment report. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, in line with unanimous scientific opinion, points out that this is a ‘code red for humanity’. The window for action is disappearing, and there is no time to waste: radical plans must be implemented now.
The climate crisis is one of two dangers that poses a threat to the continued existence of human society, the other being nuclear war. The magnitude of the emergency we face demands large-scale coordinated government action throughout the world. People must commit to holding states accountable for doing nothing while wildfires rage and sea levels rise. Activism and protest are a necessity; attempts to treat this emergency as a matter to be resolved through personal choices must be strongly rejected.
All feasible measures to cut emissions should be on the table. Immense investments in renewables, carbon rationing, and an end to all new fossil fuel exploration and power plants are reasonable places to start. The UK’s spending to deal with this crisis is currently far from satisfactory. The introduction of a National Transformation Fund along the lines proposed by the Labour Party in 2019, with the majority of spending to be dedicated to addressing the climate emergency, is another step that ought to be taken without delay.
The conclusions of the scientists are, in the words of the IPCC report, ‘unequivocal’. Any resistance to the reduction of emissions or denial of the existence of the crisis can only be viewed with contempt. We have the information. It is now only a question of whether we will act to protect ourselves and future generations from the devastating impacts of unmitigated anthropogenic climate change.