No time to procrastinate, earth is heating up, most vulnerable are least responsible, says UNEP chief Inger Andersen

Halting deforestation and ensuring ecosystem restoration to green transport, investment in renewable energies are among the solutions that can help bring down the heat, says UNEP chief Inger Andersen.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 21 – There cannot be any more procrastination on the issue of climate change and instead the world needs to actively move towards reducing global warming as even the limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius, which is fast approaching, will not be safe for the people and planet, said United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Chief Inger Andersen.

Speaking at the launch of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Climate Change 2023: Synthesis Report on Monday, she said the report’s finding was that climate change was already in motion.

“That climate change is a threat to human and planetary well-being, which are one and the same. That we are very close to the 1.5 degrees Celsius limit, and that even this limit is not safe for people and planet. That climate change is throwing its hardest punches at the vulnerable communities who bear the least responsibility – as we saw with Cyclone Freddy in Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar and flash floods in Türkiye, which together killed hundreds of people.”

Andersen said that the world’s collective failure to cut greenhouse gas emissions will keep it on track to exceed 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming and if that continued, further intensification of extreme weather, ecosystem degradation and damage to lives and livelihoods will take place. 

“We must turn down the heat. And we must help vulnerable communities adapt to those impacts of climate change that are already here. This synthesis report, which chimes with UNEP’s own research, tell us we already have the technology and know-how to get both these jobs done.  

“Renewable energy instead of fossil fuels. Energy efficiency. Green transport. Green urban infrastructure. Halting deforestation. Ecosystem restoration. Sustainable food systems, including reduced food loss and waste. Investing in these areas, and more besides, will help to stabilize our climate. Reduce nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste – the other two prongs of the triple planetary crisis. Deliver many other benefits: from cleaner air and healthier nature to decent jobs and more equity.” 

— WE