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Leaked U.N. climate report: 75 percent of reserves must stay in the ground

Zachary Toliver | Shale Plays Media

The crushing consequences of climate change are already among us and will become, most likely, irreversible as we continue to burn fossil fuels.

This is the message from a U.N. document which was leaked to the public earlier this week. According to the U.N. draft report, the penalties of climate change will be “severe, pervasive and irreversible” within the next few decades if nations burn more than one-fourth of the known fossil fuel reserves waiting to be extracted.

The New York Times broke the story of the recent dreary climate change outlook. The report, which is a compilation of numerous studies and analyses, was leaked to them ahead of the initial November release date. The draft is a combined work on behalf of the International Panel on Climate Change, a group of scientists appointed by the U.N. This collective of scientists is seen as the top experts on the climate crisis.

The report could be cut, altered and rephrased before the official document is released. Nonetheless, the unaltered document uses more forceful and direct language, perhaps more realistic than the watered-down copy that will arrive on the desks of government officials and CEOs in the months ahead.

According to The New York Times, the draft report found that companies and governments had identified reserves of  fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas around at least four times larger than could safely be burned if global warming is to be kept to a tolerable level.

The reported furthered the point by stating that if future generations want to reduce the risks of a warming global climate, discipline and innovation must take the place of the status quo in order to compensate for the fossil fuels left in the ground.

Many argue that taking responsibility for climate change will drastically harm the economy and global employment. Conversely, the report noted that warming will likely “slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing poverty traps and create new ones, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hot spots of hunger.”

Change and responsibility are taking place worldwide. But whether change and stewardship are moving fast enough remains, unfortunately, a waiting game.

Read the full intriguing story from New York Times journalist, Justin Gillis, in his article, “U.N. Draft Report Lists Unchecked Emissions’ Risks”.

Related: Climate change to make Great Plains hotter, drier

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