A number of reports released in recent weeks have revealed the dire health of the planet.

These reports would be at home in the horror section, as there is no happy ending for humanity – unless climate action starts becoming more relevant to the problem at hand. The ship is sinking fast but too many of the passengers seem to care more about sunbathing on the deck.

On the eve of next week’s COP24 in Katowice, the most important climate change event in years, leaders are well aware of news that global emissions are rising, and of the cataclysmic consequences of failing to meet climate targets agreed in Paris just three years ago.

 

“The science is clear; for all the ambitious climate action we’ve seen – governments need to move faster and with greater urgency. We’re feeding this fire while the means to extinguish it are within reach,”  said UN Environment Deputy Executive Director Joyce Msuya.

 

This week’s UN Environment report – showing global emissions are rising – also makes clear actions can be taken to prevent the worst outcomes but, at this point, there is little sign of the levels needed. Innovation and fiscal policies can still turn this ship around though, and shudder humanity back to a shore of relative safety, before the water flooding in takes us all down, the report says.

“When governments embrace fiscal policy measures to subsidise low-emission alternatives and tax fossil fuels, they can stimulate the right investments in the energy sector and significantly reduce carbon emissions.” said Jian Liu, UN Environment’s Chief Scientist. “Thankfully, the potential of using fiscal policy as an incentive is increasingly recognised, with 51 carbon pricing initiatives now in place or scheduled, covering roughly 15% of global emissions. If all fossil fuel subsidies were phased out, global carbon emissions could be reduced by up to 10% by 2030. Setting the right carbon price is also essential. At US $70 per ton of CO2, emission reductions of up to 40% are possible in some countries.”

Accelerating the shift to a world powered by clean power is another vital and interlinked step.

 

Sierra Club Global Climate Policy Director, John Coequyt said: “While Trump willfully ignores the most basic responsibility of the Presidency – to keep Americans safe – local leaders across the US are stepping up and committing to 100% clean energy in their communities. And as these recent reports have made clear, now is the time for all world leaders to also rise to this challenge and commit to a 100% clean, renewable energy economy without delay. The future of humanity depends on it.”

 

So it is over to world leaders to chart a different and achievable course, and COP24 next month is their next opportunity to demonstrate decision-making at the bridge of the good ship planet earth ambitious enough to avert disaster.

Our Editor-at-large, Marc Buckley will be in Katowice producing coverage and providing expert analysis of it all. A member of the Expert Network for the World Economic Forum, Marc also works with the World Food Programme, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and is the Germany and Austria Country Coordinator for Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project.

 

COP24, in Katowice, is on from 3 to 14 December. Sign up to get updates of our coverage from Poland – and get all our COP24 coverage straight to your inbox.