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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Aug. 12)

All News 07:17 August 12, 2021

Climate crisis looms
Bolder global action needed to achieve carbon neutrality

World scientists studying climate change released a report recently, assessing that the Earth's temperature will likely rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius within 20 years compared to the pre-industrialization period (1850-1900). "The global surface temperature will continue to increase under all emissions scenarios considered," according to the sixth assessment report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Monday.

"Global warming of 1.5 degrees and 2 degrees will be exceeded during the 21st century unless deep reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades," said the IPCC report, based on 14,000 papers and journals compiled by 234 scientists from 66 countries.

The report is reliable as a result of the "collective intelligence" of international scientists utilizing state-of-the-art information and technology. The report elaborates numerous statistics about a looming climate crisis, describing consistently "bleak and desperate" situations facing the planet and humankind.

The report says the surface temperature will go up by 1.5 degrees from 2021 to 2040, though it presented this as the 2030-52 period in a 2018 report, which means the climate time has begun ticking away 12 years earlier than previously estimated. The 2015 Paris Agreement called for restricting the temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees to cope with the climate crisis. Scientists have warned that humans may face an irreversible catastrophe unless they can curb the temperature increase to under that level.

According to the report, the likely range of total human-caused global surface temperature increase from 1850-1900 to 2010-2019 is 0.8 degrees to 1.3 degrees, with a best estimate of 1.07 degrees Celsius. It also noted it is likely that well-mixed greenhouse gases contributed a warming of 1 degree to 2 degrees. What matters is that the gases are accumulated in the atmosphere once they are emitted despite efforts to reduce emissions.

All these show that we desperately need to curtail carbon emissions effectively and realize reduction targets at the earliest date possible. Despite such a dire need to tackle the climate crisis, the Moon Jae-in administration and Korean corporations have largely failed to take proper measures.

For instance, the Presidential Committee on Carbon Neutrality came up with three options for reducing carbon emissions. Yet, the panel took flak as the first two options fell short of realizing the net-zero goal by the target year of 2050. And the third option failed to specify the target year for the termination of coal-powered plants.

Seoul is likely to face growing pressure to drastically increase its emissions reduction target in the forthcoming 26th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) scheduled for November. Carbon neutrality is necessary to ensure our sustainability. The Moon administration should take bolder climate action before it is too late.

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