By Alick Ponje, in New York, USA:
Eleven of the world’s top climate scientists have warned that the earth is heading towards a catastrophe if world leaders do not take decisive steps to cut down on emissions.
Ahead of the United Nations (UN) Climate Summit taking place in New York as the first part of the 74th UN General Assembly (UNGA), the scientists said “our current direction leads to disaster”.
Hannah Cloke, a climate scientist at the University of Reading, United Kingdom, said “This generation of leaders is the first and only in human history to know the impact human acts are having on the natural world while also having a chance to take a different path”.
Another scientist from the Met Office in the UK, Peter Scott, implored world leaders to be shocked by the scientific findings that he has helped produce over 20 years of research.
“The climate projections, if greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, are terrifying to contemplate. Already, humanity’s emissions are intensifying storms, super-charging heat-waves and destabilising the polar ice sheets,” he said.
At the beginning of this year, raging storms and floods devastated parts of Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, resulting into some of the worst fatalities in recent memory.
The disasters were linked to climate change and activists in the three countries have since intensified campaign for clean energy and a cut on greenhouse gas emissions.
This is also what Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University wants to see happening and is calling on leaders to heed the call of children who are demanding urgent action to limit warming below dangerous levels to preserve the planet.
Another researcher at University of Cambridge, Mike Hulme, is calling for governments to incentivise investment in new clean energy technologies while reducing fossil fuel subsidies.
He said: “Leave behind the rhetoric of trying to ‘save the climate’ by offering aspirational pledges for 2050 or beyond. Much more important are specific short-term policy measures that can be implemented and their success monitored, over the next five years.”
Others, such as Dave Reay of University of Edinburgh, state that, for decades, the world’s scientists have warned of “the fire we are playing with”.
According to Reay, every leader has the opportunity now of leading the world out of “this climate emergency”.
“Be brave. Your nation, like all nations, is threatened by devastating climate change. Your people, like all people, will have to endure its impacts. The time for procrastination and blame games is over.
“You have a chance to change the course of history, to steer civilisation away from a climate future that robs our children and grandchildren of the very rights and opportunities you have sworn to protect,” he said.
But it is unclear whether the leaders and dignitaries from around the world that have gathered in New York City for the annual meeting, will heed the climate calls’
Commenting on the need to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, Director of Environmental Affairs in the Malawi Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Taonga Mbale-Luka, said now is the time to take action.
“For Malawi, we are already seeing the adverse effects of climate change. The frequency, intensity and scope of climatic extreme events such as floods and droughts are increasing with serious negative effects on lives and livelihoods,” Mbale-Luka said.
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