The Observer view on Ukraine and the climate emergency

(The Guardian, 6 Mar 2022) The crisis must not become a reason to drop our commitment to net zero target.

The report last week by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the need to adapt to global warming made stark, unpleasant reading. Described by the UN secretary general, António Guterres, as “an atlas of human suffering”, it revealed that billions of people now live in parts of the world where they are highly vulnerable to climate change.

Death tolls from droughts, floods and storms are destined to increase in these regions as extreme heat events and inundations become more frequent. Only urgent action today can halt the worst impacts and prevent a global calamity, argued the IPCC.

In a normal news week, warnings as dire as these would have made front-page headlines in British newspapers. Events in Ukraine ensured they were pushed inside, however. It is not surprising that the unfolding humanitarian crisis occurring in eastern Europe should be the prime focus of our attention and concern.

However, there is a danger that the battle for Ukraine may divert attention from the approaching climate change crisis. Even before Russia launched its invasion and triggered a leap in fuel prices, some Conservative backbench MPs had been pressing for the government to cut back its green agenda, a move that has since been followed with calls for fracking to be resumed in the UK in order to boost fossil fuel production and help curb fuel price increases.

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The Guardian, 6 Mar 2022: The Observer view on Ukraine and the climate emergency