Each new report on the effects of climate change is evermore dire. Until measures to reduce or keep temperatures in check have an impact, there will be more severe weather events, sea levels will rise and humanity, species and ecosystems further threatened. The latest assessment by the United Nations is by far the bleakest, contending that many of the consequences of the failure by governments to dramatically cut carbon emissions blamed for global warming are already irreversible and worse is to come. But while the window for opportunity is determined to be “brief and rapidly closing”, it claims that with coordinated international effort and resolve this decade, a liveable future remains possible. The recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the world’s foremost authority on the issue, is the second of three reviews of progress on global efforts to keep temperatures 1.5 degrees Celsius below pre-industrial levels. Scientists previously determined that the Earth had already warmed 1.09 degrees as a result of human activity and believe that reaching between 1.7 and 1.8 degrees will create climate conditions that threaten the lives of half of all people. Already, more than 40 per cent of the population of 7.7 billion is “highly vulnerable” to the effects of heat, drought, severe storms and wildfires. Higher temperatures and rainfall are spreading disease like never before. An additional half a million are at risk of floods every year and a billion more living on coasts will be exposed by 2050. 200 nations gather for UN report on halting climate crisis World leaders committed to rapid action on climate change at a landmark summit in Scotland just four months ago. China and the United States, the world’s biggest carbon emitters, agreed to cooperate; President Xi Jinping has set a goal of the nation reaching peak emissions before 2030 and being carbon neutral by 2060. Making a switch from polluting fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources is key to the strategy and Chinese are in the vanguard. But the report highlights that drastic and urgent reductions have to be paired with adapting to the changes. Buildings will have to be constructed with more extreme weather in mind. Communities vulnerable to rising sea levels caused by melting polar ice will have to be relocated. Worsening droughts will threaten food production. The report contends a crucial measure will involve maintaining the resilience of nature on a global scale, necessitating conservation of 30 to 50 per cent of land, fresh water and oceans. Climate change affects all people, but those most at risk are the poorest. The harm caused by doing nothing, or not enough, to reduce carbon emissions, has been laid bare. With the window for ensuring a sustainable and equitable future fast closing, apathy is not an option.