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Greta Thunberg: Dire U.N. climate report confirms 'we are in an emergency'

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The Swedish teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg said she wasn’t surprised by a blistering report released Monday by the United Nations, which concluded that the Earth is warming at a rate faster than previously thought and that the window to avoid a climate catastrophe is rapidly closing.

The report, issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, warned that the climate crisis is a “code red for humanity.”

“The new IPCC report contains no real surprises,” Thunberg tweeted. “It confirms what we already know from thousands [of] previous studies and reports — that we are in an emergency. It’s a solid (but cautious) summary of the current best available science.

“It doesn’t tell us what to do,” she added. “It is up to us to be brave and take decisions based on the scientific evidence provided in these reports. We can still avoid the worst consequences, but not if we continue like today, and not without treating the crisis like a crisis.”

Greta Thunberg (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)
Greta Thunberg. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)

The 3,000-page report said it is “unequivocal” that humans have caused climate change, and that the average global temperature will rise by at least 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2050, a decade earlier than previously thought.

The report also found that global temperatures could rise this century by 2 degrees Celsius — considered by many climate scientists to be a catastrophic threshold — unless “deep reductions” in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions are made in the coming decades.

“This report is a reality check,” Valérie Masson-Delmotte, co-chair of the IPCC's Working Group I, said in a statement. “It has been clear for decades that the Earth’s climate is changing, and the role of human influence on the climate system is undisputed.”

Flames leap from trees as the Dixie Fire jumps Highway 89 north of Greenville, Calif., Aug. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)
Flames leap from trees as the Dixie Fire jumps Highway 89 north of Greenville, Calif., on Aug. 3. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Thunberg, 18, has become an inspirational figure for her work in raising awareness about climate change. In 2019, when she was 16, she delivered an angry and impassioned speech at the United Nations climate summit in New York City, denouncing world leaders for failing to do more to combat climate change.

“People are suffering,” she said then. “People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are at the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”

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