Rajendra Pachauri told reporters that humanity can no longer be content kicking the can down the road in coping with greenhouse gas emissions that are the root cause for a warming planet.
He made the warning at a conference marking the 20th anniversary of the environmental group Green Cross International.
“We may utilize the gifts of nature just as we choose, but in our books the debits are always equal to the credits,” Pachauri said, quoting fellow Indian Mahatma Gandhi. “May I submit that humanity has completely ignored, disregarded and been totally indifferent to the debits?”
His comments came less than a month before the first volume of the U.N.’s next Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment report is scheduled to be released.
It will look at the scientific evidence for climate change, and be followed by two more volumes next year that will focus on the impacts of a changing climate and the options for tackling them.
A leaked draft of the first volume two weeks ago said that human activity is almost certainly behind climate change.
Recent studies revealed that the deep oceans have absorbed most of the accumulating warmth since the turn of the 21st century, with land-based temperature trends remaining relatively flat.