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U.N. report urges 'immediate and deep emissions reductions'

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U.N. report urges 'immediate and deep emissions reductions'
Hoesung Lee, chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) speaks during a news conference on August 8, 2019. File Photo by Martial Trezzini/EPA-EFE

April 4 (UPI) -- The United Nations on Monday released a 3,675-page report urging countries to make "immediate and deep emissions reductions" or face devastating climate change consequences.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which included 278 of the world's top economic and scientific researchers from 65 countries, provides details in the report on the last remaining paths to stop irreversible damage to the planet.

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If the global emissions of greenhouse gasses are not reduced, it will lead to worsening natural disasters and the destruction of ecosystems among other threats to humanity.

Hoesung Lee, chair of the IPCC, said that the world is "at a crossroads" and that decisions made now can still secure a "livable future." Such decisions that can be made are outlined in the new report.

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"The IPCC report before us today is powerful evidence that we have the potential to mitigate climate change," Lee said in a video message. "Today's report marks the completion of a scientific trilogy. It is the last piece of the three IPCC working group contributions to the sixth assessment report, which will conclude with a synthesis report to be released later this year."

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Lee said that, together, the three reports represent the definitive and authoritative voice on climate change and "a unique interface between science and policymaking."

The bleak report noted some countries have made progress in reducing emissions but that efforts need to speed up, which will take concentrated global cooperation as paths close.

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The report found that global greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced by 43% by 2030 and reach net zero in the 2050s to stabilize global warming at around 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature target agreed upon in the Paris Climate Accords. Methane will also need to be reduced by about 33%.

"It's now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 2.7°F," said IPCC Working Group III Co-Chair Jim Skea in a press release. "Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible."

The experts noted that limiting global warming will require drastic drops in the use of fossil fuels and increasing the use of alternative fuels such as hydrogen. Meeting net zero emissions targets will also require new energy production processes.

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U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres called the findings "damning" in a video message after the release of the report.

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"This report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a litany of broken climate promises. It is a file of shame, cataloging the empty pledges that put us firmly on track towards an unlivable world," Guterres said.

"We are on a fast track to climate disaster: Major cities underwater. Unprecedented heatwaves. Terrifying storms. Widespread water shortages. The extinction of a million species of plants and animals. This is not fiction or exaggeration."

Last month, lawmakers from both parties vowed to develop a federal plan to "deliver actionable tools and resources" to fight climate change in the wake of a series of recent climate reports that outline the urgent need to reduce carbon emissions.

The hearing came just over a week after the IPCC had published another report which provided a look at the threats posed by climate change. The new report details steps governments and every business sector can take to prevent the irreversible damage.

The new report comes amid recent concerns over the global supply of oil and natural gas, fossil fuels that much of the world still relies on for energy, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Despite pledging to combat climate change, lawmakers in the United States have also pushed for an increase in oil and gas production to combat rising prices caused by the war.

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Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė said Sunday that Lithuania would become the first member of the European Union to refuse the import of Russian gas.

Her statement came as Charles Michel, president of the European Commission, said that the European Union will issue further sanctions on Russia after Ukraine's Defense Ministry accused Russian forces of executing civilians in the Ukrainian city of Bucha.

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