Published: Tue, October 09, 2018
Worldwide | By Myra Stephens

'Rapid, Far-Reaching, and Unprecedented' Global Action Needed to 'Prevent Climate Catastrophe'

'Rapid, Far-Reaching, and Unprecedented' Global Action Needed to 'Prevent Climate Catastrophe'

The report also enlists ways to slow down the warming process and limit the rise to 1.5 degree Celsius by 2100 - well below the 2 degree Celsius rise which is the intended goal of the Paris Agreement on climate change.

The IPCC met last week in Incheon, South Korea to finalize the report, prepared at the request of governments in 2015 to assess the feasibility and importance of limiting warming to 1.5C.

The world is already experiencing around 1C of global warming, and events such as floods, storms and heatwaves like the one in the United Kingdom this summer have become increasingly likely as a result of climate change, according to experts.

The scientists summarised that the already recorded rise of 1 degree in global average temperatures has led to substantial impacts. That's a sort of official validation for everyone who has looked out the window at the kowhai blooms in spring and thought, "That's early", or frowned at the seemingly constant news of storms pounding the world's cities and tried to remember if it was like this when we were kids. Tell us what you do, and why and how. As Jonathan Watts of The Guardian reports, unless the world makes some drastic and immediate changes to combat the damage already done, hundreds of millions of people may be irreversibly imperiled by drought, flooding, extreme heat and increased poverty in the decades to come. Although the report says that emissions would not be the sole contributor to temperatures above 1.5°C, the future rates of emission reductions will determine whether temps rise.

It would not require a temporary "overshoot" of the 1.5°C threshold, and does not depend on sucking vast quantities of CO2 out of the air, known as carbon dioxide removal, or "negative emissions".

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

Warrick said her organisation intends to campaign for governments to invest in carbon capture technology. Starting in 1994, a central aim of the UN's climate change efforts (the Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC) was to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that would "prevent unsafe anthropogenic interference with the climate system".

"Today the world's leading scientific experts collectively reinforced what mother nature has made clear - that we need to undergo an urgent and rapid transformation to a global clean energy economy", former US Vice President Al Gore said.

The IPCC does not do any of its own research, so the report draws on more than 6,000 research papers to reach its conclusions.

Strengthening the capacities for climate action of national and sub-national authorities, civil society, the private sector, indigenous peoples and local communities can support the implementation of ambitious actions implied by limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

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. That is now 1.5 degrees.

"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 science in the IPCC report on 1.5°C speaks for itself".

It's still possible to prevent the world from warming more than 1.5 C, the authors of the report said.

He said the report "has sent the strongest message yet from the scientific community that the era of fossil fuels has to end soon if we are to protect the world from unsafe climate change and limit warming to 1.5°C".

Quick guide What difference would restricting warming to 1.5C make? "This implies that there are situations in which ice sheets can melt much more rapidly than they have over the period we have been observing them". The IPCC said it was possible to limit rises to 1.5C, but that sea levels would still rise, there would be loss of ecosystems and coral reefs, extinction threats would remain for insects, plants and animals and there was also the prospect of lower crop yields, loss marine fisheries and the disappearance of summer sea ice in the Arctic. The report explicitly acknowledges the human impact on climate, but instead uses the data to justify continued non-action.

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