Governments must face climate change reality

As world leaders gather in Katowice, Poland for the United Nations climate conference, we’re calling for ambitious and immediate action to tackle the devastating effects of climate change and prevent it getting worse.

In 2015 representatives from nearly 200 countries met in France and agreed to keep global warming below 2oC, and to pursue efforts to limit temperature increases to 1.5oC.

The landmark Paris agreement stated a commitment to tackle climate change and to accelerate and intensify the steps needed for a sustainable low carbon future.

Now countries must use this opportunity in Katowice to commit to the implementation of that agreement, and in particular to meeting the 1.5oC target.

In October the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a historic report setting out how we can avoid pushing millions of people further into poverty, but only if governments and individuals take action now.

In the same month six Continental Bishops’ Conference called for “ambitious and immediate action” to be taken to overcome the devastating effects of climate change. Their call for action emphasises the urgency of the climate crisis, and the need to take action in the name of the poorest in the world who are already suffering its effects.  

We support these calls and want world leaders meeting in Poland to agree to a fair, clear and ambitious set of guidelines to implement the Paris agreement, and to set bold new domestic targets for emissions reductions.  

Our partners all over the world tell us that the impact of climate change is already being felt by some of the most vulnerable communities, whose food and water supplies are being stretched to breaking point by increasing floods, drought, storms and unpredictable weather.  

Leaders at the UN conference must deliver clear commitments to ensure the future of our planet and wellbeing of all its citizens, including changing the global economy to ensure people come before profit.

In Scotland, our politicians must take heed of the UN negotiations and deliver a new Climate Change Bill in 2019 that meets the Paris agreement: this means setting emissions reduction targets of 77% by 2030 and 100% by 2050.