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Act now or lose the chance, world's top scientists warn on climate change

 President Joe Biden speaks at the COP27 U.N. Climate Summit on November 11, 2022, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. [AP Photo]

Scientists have issued a "final warning" on the climate crisis, citing rising greenhouse gas emissions that are pushing the world towards irreversible damage.

In the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), humans are responsible for all global heating over the past 200 years leading to a current temperature rise of 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, which has led to more frequent and hazardous weather events that have caused increasing destruction to people and the planet.

While urging swift action to avert the crisis the report by world's top climate scientists reminds global population that every increment of warming will come with more extreme weather events.

In latest landmark report by the IPCC scientists provides the main scientific input to COP28 and the Global Stocktake at the end of this year when countries will review progress towards the Paris Agreement goals.

The report further paints a grim future of how the world as a whole is in dire straits of climate emergencies, and Kenya is not fairing any better.

For the past three years, villagers along the shores of Lake Victoria have witnessed an unprecedented rise in its water levels resulting in furious backflows; flooding homes, damaging roads, and submerging hundreds of acres of crops.

The floods have displaced hippos, snakes and crocodiles, sparking costly and bloody human-wildlife conflicts.

The irony is that the floods hit villages when farmers in the lakeside counties have been hit by poor harvests due to unpredictable rainfall patterns.

This comes at a time when Kenya met department have predicted erratic rainfall patterns and dry seasons in recent times.

In other words, the IPCC set out the devastation that has already been inflicted on swathes of the world.

Extreme weather caused by climate breakdown has led to increased deaths from intensifying heatwaves in all regions, millions of lives and homes destroyed in droughts and floods, millions of people facing hunger, and "increasingly irreversible losses" in vital ecosystems.

This final installment called the synthesis report is almost certain to be the last such assessment while the world still has a chance of limiting global temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the threshold beyond which human damage to the climate will rapidly become irreversible.

Kenyan environmental stakeholders have expressed their reactions to the latest report by the IPCC on the Synthesis Report of the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) on climate change.

The report warns of the dangers of the continued burning of fossil fuels and the need for immediate action to address the crisis.

Joab Okanda, the Pan Africa senior advocacy advisor at Christian Aid, criticized world leaders for their inaction, saying that "This report is an indictment on world leaders. We've known for a while that over a century of burning fossil fuels is the single cause of climate breakdown. Unfortunately, those of us in Africa who are least responsible for the climate crisis are the ones paying the highest price with no one to pay up for the loss and damage we are suffering," he said.

He added: "Continued burning of fossil fuel puts Africa on a dangerous path to more frequent and deadly droughts, heatwaves, floods, and storms as well as long-term economic damage. We know the solutions to the climate crisis and scientists have been clear - the end of the fossil fuel era must start now."

Meanwhile, Patricia Nying'uro, a climate scientist and IPCC Focal Point for Kenya stressed the importance of the report in highlighting the work that has been done to equip stakeholders with the best science available to respond to climate change.

She emphasized the need for strong mitigation and adaptation actions, as "The approval of this synthesis report is very timely. It highlights the work that has been done for over seven years to equip us with the best science available to respond to climate change. This report reiterates that every bit of incremental warming matters."

She observed that the warmer our planet gets, the more widespread and distinct the adverse impacts become. It underscores that without strong mitigation and adaptation actions, losses and damages will continue to disproportionately affect the poorest and most vulnerable populations, most of whom are found in Africa and in Small island developing states.

She said the report highlights equity and social and climate justice considerations underscoring the need for international cooperation in dealing with the biggest challenge of our times. Every policymaker needs to read this report!"

Mohamed Adow, the Director of Power Shift Africa, highlighted the urgent need for action, especially in Africa, which is on the frontline of the climate crisis.

He noted that the continent is experiencing the worst impacts of climate breakdown, including floods, storms, and droughts, and that without rapid action, the suffering will increase.

He emphasized the need for the world to harness affordable clean energy and the technology to decarbonize the energy system, saying "This announcement from the IPCC is important for the whole world but nowhere is it more important than for Africa, which is on the frontline of the climate crisis. It is a wake-up call for Africa and the world.

"Africans are experiencing the worst impacts of climate breakdown, from floods, storms and droughts, like the one that is currently killing people in East Africa. It is clear that without rapid action this suffering will increase," he said.

"The good news is that we have affordable clean energy and the technology to decarbonise the world's energy system. What we need now is to see this harnessed at greater speed and scale to usher in a secure and prosperous future for us all."

Dr. Nisha Krishnan, the Director of Climate, Africa, World Resources Institute (WRI), called for finance to enable systems transitions across cities, energy, transport, and other sectors. She emphasized the need for more public and private finance for mitigation and adaptation, as well as loss and damage, noting that developing countries will need $127 billion per year by 2030 and $295 billion per year by 2050 for adaptation.

Dr. Nisha Krishnan, Director, Climate, Africa, World Resources Institute (WRI) said the report makes for grim reading, eloquently laying out the devastating consequences of rising GHG emissions around the world, particularly in Africa.

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