U.N. report: We are 'nowhere near on track' to avoid catastrophic climate change

Climate change.
(Image credit: iStock)

A United Nations report published Thursday found that the world is "nowhere near on track" to meet goals in reducing the effects of climate change, reports The Guardian.

World governments committed to taking steps that would keep global warming in check, determining that 1.5 degrees Celsius on average is the maximum temperature increase the world can sustain before melting ice caps and deadly heatwaves bring catastrophic change to much of the globe. But "we are moving way too slowly" to avoid surpassing that limit, said Ola Elvestuen, Norway's environment minister.

The U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change found that governments need to drastically decrease their greenhouse gas emissions. A co-author of the report, Drew Shindell, said eliminating fossil fuels like coal and quickly transitioning to solar or wind energy would help — but world leaders are way behind schedule. "While it's technically possible, it's extremely improbable, absent a real sea change in the way we evaluate risk," said Shindell. "We are nowhere near that."

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Other world leaders told The Guardian that President Trump's embrace of "clean coal" and decision to exit the Paris climate agreement has made things harder on everyone. "It's a lot more difficult without the U.S. as a leader in climate change negotiations," said Elvestuen. "We have to find solutions even though the U.S. isn't there." But the president of the Marshall Islands, Hilde Heine, says other nations should follow in their footsteps and commit to zero emissions by 2050. "If we can do it," she said, "so can everyone else." Read more at The Guardian.

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Summer Meza

Summer is news editor at TheWeek.com, and has previously written for Newsweek and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. A graduate of Columbia Journalism School and Santa Clara University, she now lives in New York with two cats.