IMMEDIATE action and a substantial reduction in the use of fossil fuels is necessary to limit global warming, according to a major new report from the United Nations.

Based on 18,000 studies and sources, the latest part of the sixth report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was belatedly released on 4 April, following days of wrangling over its text by scientists and representatives from 195 countries.

The report states that there are still ways that global warming may be curbed to 1.5C through conversion to renewables, increasing energy efficiency, carbon capture and the planting of trees. This would require a 43% cut in greenhouse gases on 2019 levels by the end of this decade.

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Additionally, the report describes measures to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as “unavoidable” if the world is to reduce emissions to overall zero by the second half of this century.

Report co-chair Jim Skea noted: “It’s now or never, if we want to limit global warming to 1.5C. Without immediate and deep emissions reductions across all sectors, it will be impossible.”

UN secretary general Antonio Guterres described the report as a “litany of broken promises,” and called for an urgent shift in investment away from fossil fuels and towards renewables, protecting forests and cutting methane emissions.

Speaking at the IPCC news conference, Guterres said: “We are on a fast track to climate disaster - major cities under water, unprecedented heatwaves, terrifying storms, widespread water shortages, the extinction of a million species of plants and animals. 

“This is not fiction or exaggeration. It is what science tells us will result from our current energy policies.”

Guterres added: “Some government and business leaders are saying one thing – but doing another. Simply put, they are lying and the results will be catastrophic.”

Guterres argued that to invest in fossil fuel infrastructure is “moral and economic madness”.

The IPCC’s report comes mere days before the unveiling of the UK Government’s new energy strategy, which has already aroused speculation that it will pursue greater oil and gas extraction in the North Sea in order to lessen reliance upon Russia.

Further controversy was prompted by Tory minister Jacob Rees-Mogg, who commented that “every last drop” of oil and gas should be extracted from the North Sea, and that fossil fuel giants should be allowed to keep their profits instead of facing a windfall tax.