A 'final call' on the need to control global warming has been issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Their report says the world is heading for a rise of 3 degrees C above pre-industrial levels and that this needs to be kept to 1.5C in order to avoid catastrophic change.
It says global emissions of CO2 need to decline by 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030, that renewables must provide 85 per cent of global energy by 2050 and that global net emissions should be zero by then.
The scientists warn that failing to take widespread – and expensive – action will lead to catastrophic sea level rises, the death of coral reefs, the ability to grow staple food crops and areas of the earth becoming uninhabitable.
The Church of England's lead bishop on the environment has said the report reveals a 'critical risk-level' for global communities.
Speaking from the European Churches Environmental Network in Katowice, Bishop Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, urged the UK government to commit to a target of net zero emissions by 2050.
'The evidence published by the IPCC today shows that the risk level of climate change is now critical. Ours is the first generation to know and understand this and probably the last to be able to do something meaningful towards climate justice,' he said.
'This year has been the hottest on record. Extreme weather events happen with increasing frequency, and the poorest are most vulnerable to the impact of climate change which affects us all.
'For Christians, striving to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustaining and renewing the life of the earth is at the heart of what we believe. We have a narrow window now to act if we are to protect God's creation for generations to come – as individuals, communities and as a global family.'
He added: 'We can, and we must do more to pick up the pace of change. This is a holistic and positive change, with benefits for the way we live together.'
Stephen Beer, chief investment officer at Epworth Investment Management Limited, which manages the money of the Methodist Church and other Christian charities said of the IPCC report that it made 'grim reading'. 'It shows how time is not on our side,' he said. 'It is important that we take action across society to limit carbon emissions. For churches and charities that means taking action on investments too. We are already reviewing our approach to fossil fuel companies but we have always said it is about companies in every sector of the economy. What is their contribution to stopping climate disaster, or are they part of the problem? We need to see action.'