Climate crisis affecting quality of life, fuelling discontent in many societies

NEW YORK: The climate crisis, as well as persistently high inequalities, and rising levels of food insecurity and undernourishment, is affecting the quality of life in many societies and fuelling discontent, the UN warned Thursday. Releasing the 2020 World Economic Situation Report (WESP), UN economic experts behind the report called for “massive adjustments” to the energy sector, which is currently responsible for around three-quarters of global greenhouse gas emissions. If the world continues to rely on fossil fuels over the next few years and emissions in developing countries rise to the level of those in richer nations, global carbon emissions would increase by more than 250 per cent, with potentially catastrophic results. The reports authors insist that the worlds energy needs must be met by renewable or low-carbon energy sources, which will lead to environmental and health benefits, such as lower air pollution, and new economic opportunities for many countries. However, the 2020 WESP finds that the urgent need to switch to clean energy continues to be underestimated, noting that countries are continuing to invest in oil and gas exploration, and coal-fired power generation (read our story on the the move away from coal here). This reliance on fossil fuels is described as shortsighted, leaving investors and governments exposed to sudden losses, as the price of oil and gas fluctuates, as well as contributing to deteriorating climatic conditions, such as global warming. Risk associated with the climate crisis are becoming an ever-greater challenge, concludes the report, and climate action must be an integral part of any policy mix. Strategies and technology for a transition to a clean economy that delivers accessible to reliable and decarbonized energy already exist, continues the report, but will require political will and public support. Failure to act will significantly increase the ultimate costs. The East Asia region continues to be the worlds fastest growing region, with China’s economy growing at a rate of 6.1 per cent in 2019. Although growth is expected to level off, China will still see world-beating growth of 5.9 per cent by 2021. The more economically developed parts of the world are seeing much slower growth, with the USA expected to see a slowdown from 2.2 per cent in 2019, to 1.7 per cent in 2020.