Published: Tue, October 09, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Scientists warn of imminent climate catastrophe without massive changes

Scientists warn of imminent climate catastrophe without massive changes

And, in Norfolk, the Green Party says all levels of government, including local councils, need to heed the warning from the scientists who put together the report.

"The next few years are probably the most important in human history", IPCC co-chair Debra Roberts, head of the Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department in South Africa, told Agence France-Presse.

The report compares the impacts of warming at 1.5°C against 2°C across the planet - from ecosystems on land and in oceans to the health and well being of people - and finds universal benefits in the lower target, such as 0.1 meter less sea level rise that could mean 10 million less people were exposed to related risks.

"Twenty-40% of the global human population live in regions that, by the decade 2006-2015, had already experienced warming of more than 1.5°C above pre-industrial in at least one season". The longer we wait to act, the IPCC report says, the more we'll have to use this type of technology, which has never been proven at a large scale.

When the target was put into the Paris Agreement, relatively little was known about the climate risks that would be avoided in a 1.5C warmer world compared with a 2C warmer world, or about the action needed to limit temperature rises to that level.

The IPCC's report, released today (Monday, October 8), shows the impacts of even 1.5° of warming are far greater than previously expected, but also that it's definitely still feasible to hold warming to that level, according to scientific research organisation Climate Analytics.

Rachel Kennerley, climate campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: 'Just like ignoring credit card statements so that repayments only become sharper and steeper, this report shows that weak responses will make it harder in the long-run.

The headlines about cutting emissions by 45% by 2030 and getting nearly all of our electricity from renewables by the middle of the century, are all very well but a key point of this report is that successfully limiting climate change to 1.5C is not just down to cutting emissions or making lifestyle changes or planting trees - it is all of that and then some, acting in concert at the same time.

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The report is sensitive to the fact that changes required to meet 1.5℃ must be consistent with the UN's wider sustainable development goals.

Overall, the authors say that current greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030.

The shares of nuclear and fossil fuels with carbon dioxide capture and storage in electricity generation are modelled to increase in most 1.5-degree pathways "with no or limited overshoot". Can we limit warming to that number?

After only one degree of warming, the world has seen deadly storms engorged by rising seas and a crescendo of heatwaves, drought, flooding and wild fires made more intense by climate change.

As the IPCC's reports are largely based on a critical assessment and synthesis of published scientific papers, many of its latest conclusions are unsurprising. IPCC assessments are a key input into the global negotiations to tackle climate change. "Global warming is likely to reach 1.5 degree Celsius between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate".

However, to do so would take an unprecedented political commitment to slash the use of coal, oil and natural gas, and to rapidly deploy technology that removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, said the report produced by 90 scientists from around the world. This is the crux of the United Nations climate change science panel report that all the countries accepted on Saturday after a contentious and strenuous meeting between scientists and diplomats in Korea.

"Limiting warming to 1.5 °C is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes", said Jim Skea, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III. Under the 2015 Paris accord, countries agreed to limit the average temperature increase to well below 2 degrees, with a goal of no more than 1.5 degrees. But saving a mere half-degree could make a huge difference in some parts of the world. Countries need to undertake massive de-carbonisation while the developed countries must also address consumption in their countries.

The report notes that we are now at a warming of about 1.0°C, with the warming trend rolling along at 0.2±0.1°C per decade.

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