'Devastating:' World is 'heading in the wrong direction' on climate change, new UN report warns – USA TODAY

The world is “heading in the wrong direction” when it comes to climate change, according to a new report from the United Nations released Tuesday in Geneva. 
Without much more ambitious action to curb greenhouse gas emissions, the physical and socioeconomic impacts of climate change will be increasingly devastating, the report, called “United in Science,” warns.
“Floods, droughts, heat waves, extreme storms and wildfires are going from bad to worse, breaking records with alarming frequency,” said U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, in a statement. “Heat waves in Europe. Colossal floods in Pakistan. Prolonged and severe droughts in China, the Horn of Africa and the United States.
“There is nothing natural about the new scale of these disasters. They are the price of humanity’s fossil fuel addiction.”
As global warming increases, “tipping points” in the climate system cannot be ruled out, the report warned. Tipping points include melting of the polar ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica and the drying of the Amazon rainforest, among others. 
The U.N. report comes amid fresh warnings from scientists last week that four climate “tipping points” will likely be triggered if that temperature threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius – set in the 2015 Paris climate accord – is passed.
“This year’s United in Science report shows climate impacts heading into uncharted territory of destruction,” Guterres said. “Yet each year we double-down on this fossil fuel addiction, even as the symptoms get rapidly worse.”
More: Four major climate tipping points close to being triggered, could cause ‘irreversible’ damage, study says
Many governments are already trying to address the threat of more extreme weather due to climate change, and data shows that deaths from natural disasters are down in recent years. Yet the economic cost of climate-induced catastrophes is projected to rise sharply.
The U.N. report says such “losses and damages” can be limited by timely action to prevent further warming and adapt to the temperature increases that are now inevitable. Questions around compensation for the damage that poor nations suffer as a result of emissions produced by rich countries will play a major role at the upcoming U.N. climate talks in Egypt this fall.
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Contributing: The Associated Press

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