Living in a world that is 1.5C warmer in two decades than it was 200 years ago means a heatwave that would previously have occurred once in 50 years is likely to occur nine times. In the more serious instance of 2C of warming, the odds are worse still — sweltering conditions would be suffered 14 times, or every three-and-a-half years. The landmark report by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on Monday lays bare the urgent need to prepare for changes that are already underway at 1.1C of warming so far, and will only get worse at every increment.

The comprehensive scientific analysis, accepted by 195 governments, clearly outlines how weather events that are “unprecedented” in human history will become more common, and was hailed by the Quebec-born contributor Corinne Le Quéré as “one of the most important scientific reports ever published”.

‘If ever there was going to be a wake-up call for the world when it comes to climate, then it is this report,” said the UK’s Alok Sharma, president of this November’s climate summit known as COP26 where governments including his own are under pressure to take action on greenhouse gas emissions. Even if the best-case scenario of limiting warming to 1.5C above preindustrial times was realized, “we are going to need to protect ourselves, particularly the most vulnerable countries, from the effects of the changing climate”, he said. More bluntly — “[1.5C] is not a paradise,” said Stephan Singer, of the Climate Action Network that encompasses 1,300-odd environmental organizations in some 130 countries.