Climate: the time for action is now!

Published in the dossier of February 2019

Hilda Heine, President of the Marshall Islands and Chair of the Climate Vulnerable Forum

“Like other vulnerable people around the world, we are already experiencing more frequent and more severe events due to climate change than ever before. Droughts, inundations, cyclones. Like other vulnerable countries, we will need support to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change. If not us, who? If not now, when?”

The French paleoclimatologist Valérie Masson-Delmotte, co-chair of the IPCC’s working group on climate science, points out the reality of climate change and its effects: “We are currently at 1°C warming compared to the end of the 19th century, and the planet is warming up by about 0.2°C every ten years. By comparing what a world 1.5°C or 2°C warmer would be like, we see that there really are very clear benefits to stabilizing global warming at the lowest possible level.” Longer and more frequent heat waves, more intense torrential rain, the risk of yield loss for key cereal crops, rising sea levels… all aspects of the environment are concerned.

“Holding back rising sea levels by 10 centimeters by 2100 means gaining time to adapt and preventing an extra ten million people from being exposed,” she advises. “Climate issues go hand in hand with development issues.”

But the researcher remains optimistic. “We also show that stabilizing the climate is not impossible. It all depends on what we are going to do now. It’s striking to see that we are in a position to create economic development and improve everyone’s well-being, while reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and stopping the destruction of biodiversity.”

The challenge is to halve CO2 emissions between now and 2030, if we want to have a chance of stabilizing global warming at 1.5°C and being carbon neutral by 2050. We must also address methane, whose effect has been revised upward. “Our report shows many avenues for action and the importance of creating just transitions.”

* Source: France Culture, “De cause à effets” program, October 14, 2018
IPCC report (www.ipcc.ch/report/sr15)