Radical activists from the British environmental group 'Just Stop Oil' are well known fearmongers. EPA-EFE/ANDY RAIN


‘Chill out’ says IPCC climate chief: global warming is ‘not an existential threat’


British Professor Jim Skea, the new chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), says apocalyptic messaging on climate paralyses public debate and that a rise in global temperatures is “not an existential threat to humanity”.

The head of the UN climate team with a track-record of 40 years in climate science, said environmental doom-mongers do more harm than good.

While radical activist groups such as Extinction Rebellion, Just Stop Oil and the German-based Last Generation are causing disturbances in public spheres claiming the world will end imminently, Prof Skea said their methods and messages “paralyse” the public and fail to motivate them to protect the planet.

Current predictions, in which the global temperature may rise by 1.5C, are “not an existential threat to humanity”, he said.

Prof Skea has contributed to the IPCC’s Special Report on Climate Change and Land and its 2022 report on climate change mitigation, among many others.

“If you constantly communicate the message that we are all doomed to extinction, then that paralyses people and prevents them from taking the necessary steps to get a grip on climate change,” he said, adding that every action to mitigate climate change should be supported.

He did have a warning regarding environmental issues: “The world won’t end if it gets more than 1.5C degrees warmer. However, it will be a more dangerous world. Countries will struggle with many problems, there will be social tensions.”

Although he added: “And yet this is not an existential threat to humanity. Even with 1.5 degrees of warming, we will not die out.”

Professor Skea pointed out that structural measures such as the expansion of renewable energies, high-tech solutions and climate-conscious thinking are required.

“Man has his future in his own hands – we can all make decisions that make our world safer and better,” he said.

Prof Skea’s nuanced messaging is at odds with the alarmist tone of UN chief Antonio Guterres, who has described the current summer heatwave as “terrifying”.

On July 27, he pleaded for immediate radical action on climate change, saying that record-shattering July temperatures show the Earth has passed from a warming phase into an “era of global boiling”.

One of the main rivals for the IPCC top job was the Belgian Jean-Pascal van Ypersele. Despite strong financial support from Belgium, van Ypersele lost the election for a second time.