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IPCC report 2021: ‘Cost of inaction keeps mounting’ says Biden amid ‘irreversible’ sea level rise warning

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Watch live as IPCC publishes landmark climate report warning time is running out to save planet 2021-08-09 at 08:01

An authoritative and sweeping new report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has warned the world is running out of time to make drastic cuts to greenhouse gas emissions and avert devastating climate breakdown.

The report, authored by 234 scientists in 66 countries, found “it is more likely than not” that the world will reach 1.5C sometime over the next 20 years. And far greater global warming is possible if little is done to tackle rapidly rising emissions. Temperatures currently stand at around 1.2C above pre-industrial levels.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres called the report, published on Monday, a “code red for humanity”.

He warned: “The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk. Global heating is affecting every region on Earth, with many of the changes becoming irreversible.”

The report is clear that some consequences of the climate crisis are already locked in. It is “virtually certain” that global sea levels will continue to rise this century.

Sea levels will “remain elevated for thousands of years” as a result of ocean warming and melting ice sheets, the report warns. However it is still within our power to make a monumental difference to sea levels by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“Beyond 2050, sea level projections become increasingly sensitive to the emission choices we are making today,” said Dr Bob Kopp, a lead author of the chapter addressing sea level rise, and director of the Institute of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Rutgers University.

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Follow our blog for reaction and more to new report

Good morning. We’ll be covering the IPCC report’s publication live, with full reaction and analysis.

For now, a couple of posts to help you catch up on what’s going to happen...

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‘Devastating’ IPCC report to warn time running out to save planet

A “devastating” new UN report is expected to set out a stark message on runaway climate change in what the government hope will be a “wake-up call”, writes Adam Forrest.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, published on Monday, will be the first comprehensive assessment of scientific knowledge about the threat to the planet from human activity since 2013.

An interim report said global warming was likely to hit 1.5C, the disastrous limit world leaders have pledged to try to avoid, between 2030 and 2052. But reports indicate that a new landmark study will bring the window forward by a decade to 2040 at the latest.

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Possibility of hitting 1.5C by early 2030s, report says

The Times reports that the IPCC could warn 1.5C of global warming may occur by the early 2030s – earlier than most people expected.

Previous estimates put that date at the most pessimistic end of the possibility spectrum.

In 2015, countries pledged at the Paris summit to try to keep warming to 1.5C, which is looking increasingly unlikely.

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Thousands flee homes as blaze ravages Greek island amid ‘nightmarish summer’

Here is our latest story on the wildfires sweeping southern Europe. We can expect more of this as the century wears on

Uncontrolled wildfires have forced thousands of people to flee their homes on the Greek island of Evia after a blaze ripped through vast areas of pristine forest, with ferries on standby to evacuate those living nearby.

Residents described losing entire villages to the flames while the country’s prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, said Greece had suffered a “nightmarish summer”, writes Tom Batchelor.

The blaze on Evia, the second-largest Greek island in both area and population after Crete, quickly spread on several fronts.

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Background on IPCC report

This new report is the first global assessment of human-driven climate impages since 2013, when scientists found that global warming was "unequivocal" and that mankind’s role in was clear. The majority of warming since the 1950s was extremely likely to be down to human activity, they said.

The latest document is expected to be even more forthright, carrying warnings of how soon global temperatures could rise 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

Drawing on more than 14,000 scientific papers, the review is set to provide the latest knowledge on past and potential future warming, how humans are changing the climate and how that is increasing extreme weather events and driving sea-level rises.

A summary report is being published after being approved in a process involving scientists and representatives of 195 governments that has taken place online over the last two weeks.

That means governments have signed off on the findings – and pressure will be on them to take more action at global climate talks known as Cop26 which are being held in Glasgow in November.

Additional reporting by PA

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IPCC press conference to take place at 9am

The IPCC’s press conference announcing the publication of the report will take place at 9am.

It’ll be a busy moment. We’ll have our full story on the document here for you to read as well.

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Minister defends Alok Sharma’s air travel

If you recall, last week Alok Sharma was in hot water over his very busy travel schedule, flying to more than two dozen countries this year despite being Cop26 president.

Kwasi Kwarteng has defended Cop26 president Alok Sharma's foreign travel ahead of the summit, arguing "if you're trying to conduct international diplomacy, if you're trying to build trust with other people, I think face-to-face meetings are critical for that".

The business secretary told Sky News: "I think it's a critical situation, I think we've got to really focus on delivering on net-zero. I'm very optimistic that we can do it but I think Alok is right to highlight the risks of us not being able to achieve that target."

He added: "Cop26 is a big international event, it's probably the biggest international event of international diplomacy that we've hosted in decades and he has to go and forge those alliances, he has to build networks, he has to deliver on people's commitments and that does involve foreign travel."

Video-conferencing software “has its limitations”, Mr Kwarteng said.

Asked if the government was offsetting Mr Sharma's carbon footprint, he added: "We're looking at ways of reducing carbon all the time across the government."

Additional reporting by PA

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‘Everything is ashes’: How apocalyptic Greek wildfires could become the norm

Gazing at the burnt trees across the street from her home, 60-year-old Antonia Anastasopoulou talks about the children that won’t be coming to visit the Parnitha forest on the weekends, a common habit among many Athenians.

“This forest was Athens’ oxygen producer,’’ she says from her home in Varybobi. “The fire spread so quickly. Now everything has turned into ashes.”

Days after the first fire started in Athens, dozens of others across the country are still burning, still threatening villages, thousands of acres of farmland, tourist areas like Evia and Gytheio, and archaeological sites like ancient Olympia, write Nikolia Apostolou and Marina Rigou.

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Our full story: New IPCC report warns of potential for 1.5C warming sooner than feared

The target for limiting global heating set out in the Paris Agreement is at risk of slipping beyond reach without urgent action, the world’s leading authority on climate science warns, with the crisis already affecting every region of the planet, write Daisy Dunne and Louise Boyle.

Some of the impacts, such as global sea level rise, could be “irreversible for centuries to millennia”, according to the most comprehensive assessment yet from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

The group of 234 scientists from 66 countries found “it is more likely than not” that the world will reach 1.5C above pre-industrial levels sometime over the next 20 years – with the risk of far greater global warming if little is done to tackle rapidly rising greenhouse gas emissions. Temperatures currently stand at around 1.2C above pre-industrial levels.

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Press conference begins

Abdalah Mokssit, the secretary of the IPCC, is making some opening remarks at the press conference.

The latest IPCC document is “one of the strongest and most significant reports the IPCC has produced”, he says.

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