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Climate and Environment

The Final UN Climate Report Is Expected With 'Heated' News And Protests

Young people hold signs reading "Hot Mess" and "Not Cool" and "Protect the planet not the profit" during a protest on a sunny day in downtown L.A.
Students participate in a global walkout for Climate Change in downtown Los Angeles on March 15, 2019, as young people, inspired by Greta Thunberg, call on politicians to act on climate change. )
(Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images)
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The United Nations is expected on Monday to release its latest assessment of the state of the climate crisis and how the world could diminish the impacts, and — you guessed it — the news is expected to be bad.

The upcoming chapter will be the final piece of the Sixth Assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s leading authority on climate science. The first assessment was completed in 1990.

The previous chapters in the Sixth Assessment focused on the physical science and consequences of climate change. The upcoming chapter is expected to be the definitive overview of the causes, impacts and solutions to Earth’s rising temperatures.

But many scientists and activists say the problem has been studied enough and it’s time for faster action. Scientists are planning a global action in many cities, including in Los Angeles, to call for a rapid transition from fossil fuels. Burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas are the biggest cause of the heating of our planet.

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The movement in part stems from a leak of an alleged draft of the upcoming chapter published last July. Asmall group of Spanish scientists released it, saying they were worried it would be watered down by the time it was officially released. Since then, hundreds of scientists have joined the movement called Scientist Rebellion, an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion, a global movement that uses non-violent civil disobedience to push for governmental action on the climate emergency.

According to the leaked documents, the world’s wealthiest 10% contribute 36% to 45% of the world’s emissions. It states that high-income countries such as the U.S. will need to change energy consumption and lifestyle habits, particularly cutting down on meat consumption, decreasing travel by planes and driving SUVs, improving energy efficiency in homes and businesses, and rapidly moving towards cleaner energy options such as wind and solar.

The leaked documents note that providing modern energy to those around the world who don’t currently have it would have a negligible impact on emissions.

In its letter of demands, Scientist Rebellion calls current government plans “grossly inadequate,” emphasizing that the world is already experiencing worse climate impacts than scientists predicted. It also says that the wealthiest should bear the cost of transitioning to cleaner energy and a more sustainable economy.

“Unless those best placed to understand behave as if this is an emergency, we cannot expect the public to do so,” the scientists write. “We are terrified by what we see, and believe it is both vital and right to express our fears openly.”

They write that animal populations have dropped by 68% since 1970, which could lead to ecosystem collapses within the lifespan of current generations. They warn that, as the planet continues to warm and weather events become more severe, global food shortages and conflict could dramatically increase.

“To be informed is to be alarmed,” they write.

Global carbon emissions reached their highest levels ever last year, according to the International Energy Agency.

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