Landmark UN global warming report carries life-or-death warning

09 October, 2018, 03:22 | Author: Dwayne Harmon
  • A child walks past a misting fountain in the central Gwanghwamun area of Seoul on Aug 1 2018. The world has already warmed about 1 deg C since pre-industrial times fuelling stronger storms more extreme floods deadlier heatwaves and wildfires

He said: "The changes that would be needed to keep global warming to 1.5C are really unprecedented in terms of their scale".

An Associated Press article poignantly captures what the IPCC said in its "gloomy" report: That "preventing an extra single degree of heat" - meaning the 2 degrees C mark - "could make a life-or-death difference in the next few decades for multitudes of people and ecosystems on this fast-warming planet".

To ensure the planet is liveable, global Carbon dioxide emissions have to be reduced by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and renewables must provide up to 85% of global electricity by 2050 to meet targets.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was tasked with these questions by the framers of the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement, which calls for halting the rise in temperatures to "well below" 2°C - and 1.5°C if possible.

Key points in the report include maintaining the current global temperature at 1.5ºC.

Matthew Spencer, Oxfam's director of campaigns and policy said: 'Climate change has set our planet on fire, millions of people are already feeling the impacts, and the IPCC is clear that things could get much worse without immediate action. They have "medium confidence" that there will be more extreme storms in areas such as high-elevation regions, eastern Asia and eastern North America. However, it shows that right now the world is on track to warm up by 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2040. It would cut in half the number of animals and plants that would lose habitats with the attendant risk of extinction.

The report also examines pathways available to limit warming to 1.5 C, what it would take to achieve them and what the consequences could be.

We are a voice to you; you have been a support to us. Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching "net zero" around 2050.

The NSW Minerals Council likewise said coal had "very positive" future in the state, with strong demand from traditional and emerging export markets, a spokesman said. Nations settled on a target of limiting global warming to no more than 2°C a while back.

According to the report, there are two main ways of removing carbon from the atmosphere: increasing natural processes that already do this, and experimental carbon storage or removal technologies.

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Other proposed options involve changing lifestyles: eating less meat, riding bicycles and flying less.

Furthermore, the group estimated the chances of having an ice-free summer in the Arctic rises to 16 per cent at 2 C of warming from three per cent at 1.5 C. And the frequency of extreme rainfall events in eastern Canada will go up 26 per cent at 1.5 C, and 55 per cent at 2 C.

Enlarge / Benefits and trade-offs of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C for different categories of development goals.

How Much Global Warming Has There Been Already?

More than 90 authors from 40 countries were involved in leading the report, helped by 133 contributing authors.

And they said the use of coal for electricity generation would have to drop to between 0 and 2 per cent of current usage.

But scientists have only "medium confidence" in the revised carbon budgets, says Thomas Stocker, a climate scientist at the University of Bern in Switzerland.

More frequent or intense droughts, such as the one that almost ran the taps dry in Cape Town, South Africa, as well as more frequent extreme rainfall events such as hurricanes Harvey and Florence in the United States, are also pointed to as expectations as we reach the warming threshold.

In the meantime, the newer and larger carbon budget could send the wrong message to policymakers, says Oliver Geden, a social scientist and visiting fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany. The report acknowledged those changes would be hard and costly, but not impossible. "It's always five minutes to midnight, and that is highly problematic", he says.

This article is reproduced with permission and was first published on October 8, 2018.

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