Keir Starmer has stated that “the biggest threat we face now is not climate denial but climate retardation” after the UN intergovernmental panel on climate change issued its severest warning yet.
The report released todayThe culmination of 14,000 separate studies and the panel’s first major review on climate change since 2013, stated that it is “unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, oceans and land.”
The authors of the document reported that human activity is changing the planet’s climate in “unprecedented” ways in at least the last 2,000 years, and warned that some of those changes are now “irreversible.”
They concluded that temperatures are likely to rise more than 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels, breaching the commitment of the Paris climate agreement signed in 2015, within the next two decades.
The report sets out five scenarios for the future of climate change with varying degrees of projected severity, but all the scenarios predict that the 1.5 degree increase will be achieved by 2040 and earlier if emissions are not reduced.
“The IPCC report is the strongest reminder yet that the climate crisis is here right now and it is the biggest long-term threat we face,” Starmer said this morning.
“It confirms that the extreme weather events of recent months are only going to become more frequent, and that we need urgent action both to reduce emissions in this decisive decade and to adapt to changes in our climate that are already taking place.”
The report found that the past four decades have been successively warmer than any decade since 1850, surface temperatures in the first two decades of the 21st century were around 1.1 degrees higher than 1850-1900, and that global surface temperature has risen faster since 1970 than in any other 50-year period. “
The most optimistic IPCC projection, which assumes “very low” emissions and the achievement of net zero around 2050, found that the world will reach 1.5 degrees in 20 years, but could stabilize at 1.4 degrees Celsius by the end of the year. century.
The IPCC review also reported: “It is very likely that the global warming level of 2 ° C will be crossed in the medium-term period (2041-2060) in the very high GHG emissions scenario, which will probably occur in the scenario high GHG emissions, and is more likely to occur in the intermediate GHG emissions scenario. “
The Labor leader added: “The biggest threat we face now is not climate denial but climate retardation. Those who, like our Prime Minister, acknowledge that there is a problem, but simply do not have the scale of ambition necessary to match the moment.
“Our communities and the planet can no longer afford the inaction of this government, which is not treating the crisis with the seriousness it deserves.
“A Labor government would take the action we need to reduce emissions, with progressive solutions for our citizens and leadership on the international stage to ensure a global effort to address the climate and natural crisis and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. “.
The UK government, along with many others, has pledged to reach net zero by 2050, which means cutting emissions as much as possible and making up for the rest, but has been criticized for failing to combine ambition with action.
The government launched the green jobs task force, made up of industry figures, experts and unions, in November last year after Boris Johnson unveiled his low-carbon ten-point plan. It published a report last month.
Recommendations included the creation of a new national organization to help shape the transition to a green economy, the establishment of a ‘green stewards launch pad’ and the publication of a comprehensive net zero strategy ahead of the COP26 summit. .
But, writing in The Guardian Before a visit to Scotland last week, Starmer accused Johnson of being “missing in action” in the climate emergency, arguing that “a credible government would now be demonstrating serious ambition.”
He also pledged the party to achieve the “substantial majority” of greenhouse gas emission cuts by 2030 during an interview with The independent last Tuesday, a promise made by former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Shadow Business Secretary Ed Miliband said today’s report presents “in prose the picture painted by fires and floods around the world in recent weeks,” but added that “our generation is unique in the world. history of this crisis “.
“Thanks to reports like this, the paths of our different futures are now mapped and modeled in front of us; and we still have a choice about the path we and future generations will commit to, ”he argued.
“In the decisive years ahead, our destiny is still in our own hands. In the face of the threats outlined in this report, the case for transformative action to reduce emissions now is not just the overwhelming moral choice, but also the only sensible and prudent economic course. That is why the Labor Party has said that we should cut the substantial majority of emissions this decade. “
The IPCC review said that the past five years have been the hottest on record since 1850 and that the recent rate of sea level rise has nearly tripled compared to 1901-1971.
Hot extremes have become more frequent in all regions, the UN panel said, adding that “climate change is already affecting all inhabited regions around the world and human influence contributes to many observed changes.”
Human influence on climate change (90%) is very likely to have been the main driver of the global retreat of glaciers since the 1990s and the decrease in Arctic sea ice area between 1979-1988 and 2010-2019, according to today’s report. .
It also concluded that human impact was most likely the main factor in sea level rise since “at least 1971”, and that human activity has warmed the climate at a rate “unprecedented in at least the last 2,000 years. “.
According to the paper, atmospheric CO2 concentrations were higher than at any time in at least two million years, CH4 and N2O concentrations were higher than at any time in at least 800,000 years, and increases in CO2 (47%) and CH4 (156%) concentrations have far exceeded the natural changes of several millennia.
“What this report does confirm is that there is an unequivocal link between human activity and the climate crisis that we are now seeing unravel. This is not a crisis that is somewhere down the road that we can park, ”said Luke Pollard.
“But the report also establishes that there is a route to avoid the most severe climate chaos and that comes from taking bold steps to decarbonize our economy right now, and that is why we need COP26 to be a success.”
Countries are asked to attend COP26, to be held in Glasgow later this year, with plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to achieve the 1.5 degree target of the Paris agreement, that the IPCC review emphasized that it is still possible, but only narrowly.
The Secretary of the Environment in the Shadow added: “We need the government to lead by example. That means not following through on their plans for new coal mines, which they wanted to do, not cutting green home modernization budgets, which they have sadly done, anticipating planned investment to create green jobs now and being fully determined, focused on the To be. , to reduce emissions where they come from.
“And for Britain in particular, that comes from transport and housing in particular. That’s where we really should go the most to decarbonize those methods and in doing so create new jobs and reduce bills. “
Labor laid out a plan to boost a clean economy by focusing on the UK manufacturing sector last November, calling for a quick stimulus package of at least £ 30bn over the next 18 months with funds dedicated to low-carbon industries.
Johnson has faced pressure and his commitment to tackling climate change has been more recently questioned after saying in a BBC interview last week that he was “not aware” of proposals for a new oil field off the coast of Shetland. .
Activists have urged the prime minister to stop the controversial project that Greenpeace has said, in the first phase, will produce emissions equivalent to 18 coal-fired power plants in operation for a year.
If the scheme goes ahead, production would start in 2025 and run through 2050, the same year the UK is supposed to hit net zero. The Labor leader has called for a “strict schedule“To end oil and gas exploration, and said the opposition party would not support the new oil field.”