The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) painted a grim portrait of the current and future climate without serious climate action.
Approved by 195 countries, the 3949 page report is the strongest stance from the IPCC yet and provides a scathing indictment of humankind’s role in accelerating climate change, creating the planet’s warmest climate in 125,000 years.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres described the situation as “code red for humanity,” urging countries to take immediate action to stay under the 1.5°C threshold.
US Presidential Envoy for Climate Change John Kerry emphasised the rapidly closing window of time and the high stakes going into the upcoming U.N. Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.
“As the IPCC makes plain, the impacts from the climate crisis, from extreme heat to wildfires to intense rainfall and flooding, will only continue to intensify unless we choose another course for ourselves and generations to come,” Kerry said.
“What the world requires now is real action.”
As the Biden administration’s top official for international climate policy, Kerry may be facing less contention abroad compared to the far more divided state of climate politics in the U.S.
Following the report’s release, US, Senate Democrats unveiled their long-anticipated $3.5 trillion budget plan directed toward aggressive climate change measures, health, education and family support.
Their proposed package includes taxes on emissions-heavy imported fuels, tax incentives and investments for clean energy, a clean electricity standard and funding for a Civilian Climate Corps.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders has been a staunch advocate for aggressive climate action, particularly hiking up taxes on the wealthy to pay for it.
“We must take bold action NOW to combat climate change, and that’s exactly what we are going to do,” he said in a tweet publicising the IPCC report.
Massachusetts Senator and Green New Deal sponsor Ed Markey further emphasised the bill’s importance in the wake of the IPCC’s warning.
“If Senators truly followed the science in this report, we’d have 100 votes for climate action to match the 100 per cent certainty that human-caused climate change is destroying our planet,” he said.
Republicans naturally condemned the Democrats’ blueprint, with Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell dubbing it a “socialist shopping list.”
The Senate is expected to approve the budget within the week as both progressive and moderate Democrats unite to overcome Republican opposition using reconciliation, passing substantial finance legislation with a narrow 50-50 vote rather than face the 60 vote filibuster.
The pressure is now on President Joe Biden, who is walking an already tight line between progressive and conservative wills.
After the report’s release, Biden tweeted about the seriousness of climate change and that “the cost of inaction keeps mounting.”
Comments under Biden’s tweet are flooded with critics calling out the president for refusing to ban fracking, approving pipelines and discreetly subsidising one of the country’s biggest coal suppliers.
The Democrat-only budget plan could be an opportunity for Biden to prove that his climate promises were not empty after many of his climate proposals were cut from the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, expected to pass the Senate on Tuesday.