The UK minister responsible for the vital UN climate talks in autumn has warned the world will soon face a catastrophe unless urgent action is taken.
Nonetheless, Alok Sharma also said ahead of the Cop26 talks to be held in November in Glasgow that the UK will continue supporting new fossil fuel projects.
“I don’t think there’s any other word for it. You’re seeing on a daily basis what is happening across the world,” he told the Observer, adding: “Last year was the hottest on record, the last decade the hottest decade on record.”
But the minister insisted the UK government will continue to allow new oil and gas exploration.
Government target ‘too far away’
He defended the government’s plans to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, a target which Boris Johnson’s climate spokesperson said is “too far away”.
Sharma also rejected controversies stemming from him allegedly travelling to 30 nations in seven months, whilst encouraging people to limit their carbon emissions.
It comes as a new UN report is set to be published on Monday, which will send a stark message on the state of the climate crisis.
In the light of the report, he told The Guardian: “This is going to be the starkest warning yet that human behaviour is alarmingly accelerating global warming and this is why Cop26 has to be the moment we get this right. We can’t afford to wait two years, five years, 10 years – this is the moment.
“I don’t think we’re out of time but I think we’re getting dangerously close to when we might be out of time. We will see a very, very clear warning that unless we act now, we will unfortunately be out of time.”
Climate crisis effects on people
Sharma said the climate crisis effects can already be seen in the UK and across Europe, which in recent months has experienced wildfires and flooding.
“Every day you will see a new high being recorded in one way or another across the world,” he said.
He added: “Ultimately this comes down to the very real human impact this is having across the world. I’ve visited communities that as a result of climate change have literally had to flee their homes and move because of a combination of drought and flooding.
“Every fraction of a degree rise [in temperature] makes a difference and that’s why countries have to act now.”
As president of the climate crisis conference in November, Sharma will have to convince countries such as China, India, Australia and Brazil to commit to policies which will cut their emissions.