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UN warns of the triple emergency of climate, biodiversity and pollution

Without immediate socio-economic and individual changes, the global temperature will rise by at least 3 degrees Celsius by the end of this century .

View of the shore of a lake

UNEP published a report demonstrating how human beings and our consumption habits have made planet Earth an increasingly less habitable place. Photo: Pexels

LatinAmerican Post | Vanesa López Romero

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Leer en español: ONU advierte de la triple emergencia del clima, la biodiversidad y la contaminación

Last Thursday, February 18, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) published the report "Making peace with nature: a scientific plan to address the triple emergency of climate, biodiversity and pollution" , in where, based on data taken from environmental assessments around the world by expert scientists, it demonstrated how human beings and our consumption habits have made and are making planet Earth an increasingly less habitable place.

For UNEP, one of the most important successes of this report is that it manages to bring the current scientific research and panorama on the environment from "clear and accessible messages based on data with which the general public can relate and those who can follow up ", in order to alert and explain in the best way the environmental crises that we are experiencing nowdays.

According to the report, the current form of development is putting the Earth's vital resources at risk and, consequently, human well-being is in jeopardy. "Economic, technological and social advances have also led to a reduction in the Earth's ability to sustain current and future human well-being." Special emphasis is placed on the fact that world economic activity has quintupled, increasing both the extraction of natural resources and production and consumption. It gives as an example of this point the fact that of the 7,800 million people in the world, 1,300 million people continue to be poor and some 700 million go hungry.

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Likewise, the report presented by the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres, drew attention to the lack of commitment to the environment on the part of world society. According to the report, " society is far from complying with the Paris Agreement of limiting global warming to a level well below 2 ° C above pre-industrial levels and of trying to contain even more the increase in temperature to keep it below 1.5 ° C ". It is predicted that by 2040 the global temperature will increase by about 1.5 ° C and that by 2100 it will reach 3 ° C. So far, none of the objectives proposed in the Paris Agreement has been fulfilled , which shows the lack of clarity when it comes to thinking about actions and implementing policies that protect the environment in most of the signatory countries.

Regarding biodiversity, the report indicates that, of the 8 million species of flora and fauna in the world , at least 1 million are threatened by extinction , while the oceans and land are on the way to degradation, and it also states that "the world annually discharges into water up to 400 million tons of heavy metals, toxic substances and other industrial waste ." This means that, in just 40 years, plastic pollution in the sea has multiplied by 10 .

One of the most relevant points of the report is that it clarifies that although all human beings bear the responsibility for climate change, the loss of biodiversity and the very high level of pollution on land and sea, it is the poorest people who will have to deal with worst part. Thus, large industries and people belonging to upper social classes (who in the end are the greatest power to change the situation), would not see the effects of these dangers as people with limited resources would.  "Producers and consumers in rich countries often export their environmental footprint to poorer countries through trade and waste disposal, " the report states.

From the diagnosis that is reached, the necessary, and above all urgent changes are identified to "close the gaps between current actions and those needed to achieve sustainable development."