Pointing to a new United Nations report, Islamic Relief’s senior policy advisor Jamie Williams argues that climate catastrophe can still be averted – if world leaders follow the science and do more, quicker.

Jamie Williams, Senior Policy Advisor for Islamic Relief Worldwide

The world’s poorest communities have long borne the brunt of climate change. In over 20 countries Islamic Relief supports people to adapt to the changes happening as the world’s climate breaks down.

We’ve been fighting to draw attention to the unfolding disaster, demanding bold action that so far has not materialised. Now though, recent weather events closer to home have made people in rich countries more alert to what is happening.

Just weeks ago the worst floods in decades hit western Europe. As I write, wildfires rage in countries including Turkey, Italy, Spain and the USA. The realisation is growing that this is a truly global threat.

This week’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report lays bare the scientific analysis and description of the climate breakdown.

This is not the first IPCC report to state that the world is in big trouble. But it brings up to date the models which show where we have been and where we are going with global heating.

It paints a bleak picture.

The Sixth Assessment Report on the physical science shows that humanity is changing our planet in damaging ways. Further reports next year will account for that damage and set out ways in which the destruction can be limited.

We can still avoid climate devastation

Scientists are as certain as they can be that with the way carbon dioxide levels are increasing, the world is on track to global warming of 2.6° to 3.9°C by end of this century. They show how this is translated into extreme weather events like the severe heat and rainfall experienced recently in Canada, China and Europe. They describe the longer-term effects of the warming oceans on weather systems that will increase drought and flooding and produce devastating storms across the world.

But there is still hope.

Reducing carbon emissions by making dramatic changes to the way we use energy, produce food, make things and travel, can limit the warming to about 1.5°C.

How much each sector can reduce its carbon footprint
UNEP Emissions Gap Report 2020. GT = billion tons

These changes mean a better world for people: energy independence, preserving the rainforests, sustainability, green jobs, liveable cities, clean water and air, healthy children and more.

The IPCC report is clear that 1.5°C is scientifically possible. The public is concerned and are increasingly supporting the solutions. But it needs political leadership.

They are already on it but there must be more, and sooner. Swift decarbonisation with coal and deforestation is at the top of the list, as well as attention to highly damaging methane emissions.

Potential technologies to capture emissions must only be seen as an add on – never a replacement or ‘offset’ for continuing pollution.

The biggest thing that will help Islamic Relief’s work with people to adapt to climate change is to limit the heating. In October we will be with the politicians at COP26 in Glasgow, pressing hard for the necessary action.

Donate now to support Islamic Relief’s life-saving work in communities suffering as a result of climate breakdown.