The Guardian view on global warming: time is running out

A polar bear walks in the snow near Hudson Bay outside Churchill, Mantioba, Canada. Global warming is heating the Arctic at a record pace

Global warming is a crisis for civilisation and a crisis for life on Earth. Human-caused climate change was behind 15 deadly weather disasters in 2017, including droughts, floods and heatwaves. The world’s leading climate scientists, in a special report for the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), have warned that there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C. To meet that target, global carbon emissions need to drop by 45% by 2030. Instead they are going up. We need radical, urgent change. So it is appalling that negotiators in Poland at the 24th Conference of the Parties, or COP24, are finding it so hard to push ahead with implementing the climate deal signed three years ago in Paris.

This is largely because rising rightwing nationalism has vitiated the global solidarity needed to avoid a catastrophe. Under the Paris agreement, effective action to tackle climate change requires global cooperation on three fronts: first, nations set demanding carbon-reduction targets for their own societies; second, countries are held accountable for meeting these targets through surveillance mechanisms; and third, rich states provide cash for poorer ones to transition to a carbon-free future. Yet none of this is possible when the most…

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