THE WORLD is heading into “uncharted territories of destruction”, the head of the UN has warned- as a stark document has set out the scale of the climate crisis.

The United In Science report, co-ordinated by the UN’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), has warned that “without ambitious action, the physical and socioeconomic impacts of climate change will be devastating”.

It details greenhouse gas levels – largely carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels such as oil and gas – continuing to rise, increasingly high global temperatures and destructive climate-driven floods, droughts and heatwaves already happening around the world.

The report comes as Pakistan suffers from catastrophic flooding, and in the aftermath of searing heat and drought in parts of the world including Europe and the UK, which saw temperatures climb above 40C for the first time on record.

Pointing to the heat wave that swept across the UK this summer, the report points to research by the World Weather Attribution initiative which found that “human-caused climate change made the heatwave in the UK at least 10 times more likely”.

The UN report warns there is a huge gap between the pledges countries have made under the international Paris Agreement to curb global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels to avoid the worst impacts of climate change and the action they are taking to deliver it.

In March, the Scottish and UK governments’ independent advisers, the Climate Change Committee (CCC), warned that the Scottish Government's strategy to adapt to the impacts of climate breakdown has "stalled" – putting people, businesses and critical infrastructure at risk.

Scotland ended three years in a row of failing to meet its annual greenhouse gas reduction targets, but SNP Net Zero Secretary Michael Matheson has warned he expects the figures to “substantially rebound” next year as the country emerges from the pandemic – particularly around transport.

MSPs have pledged to cut 1990 levels of carbon emissions by 75 per cent by 2030, with the progress as of 2020 at 58.7%.

The country has committed to become net zero by 2045 when Scotland’s contribution to the climate crisis is due to end.

Globally, CO2 emissions in early 2022 were higher than pre-pandemic levels in early 2019, while 2015 to 2021 were the seven warmest years on record.

Less than a year since global leaders gathered at COP26 in Glasgow to work towards limiting global warming to 1.5C, the report has insisted that actions are not matching commitments.

Since the summit, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and soaring gas prices has led to some governments embracing fossil fuels – with Liz Truss reportedly ready to open up to 30 new North Sea drilling licences.

But UN secretary general Antonio Guterres has wared against ignoring the climate impacts of turning to oil, gas and coal.

He said: “Each year we double down on this fossil fuel addiction, even as the symptoms get rapidly worse.”

Mr Guterres said the new report showed the world was “way off track”, with climate action stalling, a failure to help the vulnerable adapt to a changing world and losses from climate disasters of 200 million dollars (£170m) a day.

“Floods, droughts, heatwaves, extreme storms and wildfires are going from bad to worse, breaking records with ever alarming frequency,” he warned.

He pointed to the heatwaves in Europe, floods in Pakistan, and prolonged and severe droughts in China, parts of Africa and the US, and said: “There is nothing natural about the new scale of these disasters.

“They are the price of humanity’s fossil fuel addiction.

“This year’s United In Science report shows climate impacts heading into uncharted territories of destruction, yet each year we double-down on this fossil fuel addiction, even as the symptoms get rapidly worse,” he said.

“The current fossil fuel free-for-all must end now. It is a recipe for permanent climate chaos and suffering.”

Mr Guterres also called for far more finance from rich nations and development banks to help developing countries and vulnerable communities adapt to climate change and disasters.

Campaigners have called for the Scottish Government to call on Westminster politicians to rule out ramping up fossil fuels extraction.

Friends of the Earth Scotland's head of campaigns, Mary Church, said: "The science is crystal clear that there's no more time for tinkering around the edges in response to the climate crisis.

"Nothing less than transformation of our energy system and economy will do. 

“The Scottish Government must be willing to stand up to the reckless plans of the UK Government to expand fossil fuels and hand out more licences for oil and gas companies to explore and drill in the North Sea.

"Anyone who is encouraging companies to seek out more fossil fuels is denying the reality of climate breakdown and the devastation it is causing.

"Ministers at Holyrood must use their powers to the fullest extent, taking action to boost public transport, ensure our houses are warm, and scale up the supply renewable energy to phase out the oil and gas that is driving both the climate and cost of living crises.”

WMO secretary general Prof Petteri Taalas said: “Climate science is increasingly able to show that many of the extreme weather events that we are experiencing have become more likely and more intense due to human-induced climate change."

“We have seen this repeatedly this year, with tragic effect.

“It is more important than ever that we scale up action on early warning systems to build resilience to current and future climate risks in vulnerable communities.”

The UN, led by the WMO, is working to make early warning systems available to everyone on Earth within five years.

Responding to the report, Tasneem Essop, executive director of the global Climate Action Network of environmental and social organisations and aid agencies, said: “The terrifying picture painted by the United In Science report is already a lived reality for millions of people facing recurring climate disasters.

“The science is clear, yet the addiction to fossil fuels by greedy corporations and rich countries is resulting in losses and damages for communities who have done the least to cause the current climate crisis.”

She called for an end to the dependence on fossil fuels through a transition to clean economies that is fair and equitable, and for the forthcoming COP27 UN climate summit in Egypt to agree new funding for those already hit by the crisis.