DATE: October 8, 2018
SNIP: The world risks catastrophic flooding, drought and poverty unless the rise in global temperatures can be limited to 1.5C, leading climate scientists warn today. Urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to reach the target which is at the most ambitious end of the Paris agreement pledge to keep temperatures between 1.5C and 2C, the report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says. The half-degree difference could prevent corals from being eradicated and ease pressure on the Arctic, it adds. Speaking after the report was approved in Incheon, South Korea, on Monday, Debra Roberts, a co-chair of the working group on impacts, said it was a “line in the sand” from the science community.
The authoritative new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sets the world a clear target: we must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to net zero by the middle of this century to have a reasonable chance of limiting global warming to 1.5C.
Every government should read this report and recognise the clear choice we now have.
Accelerate the transition to clean and sustainable growth or suffer the mounting damage from sea level rise, floods and droughts that will severely hinder efforts to tackle poverty, raise living standards and improve prosperity.
Human activities are currently emitting about 42bn tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, and at that rate the carbon budget – allowing us a 50-50 chance of keeping warming to 1.5C – would be exhausted within 20 years.
Even 1.5C of warming would have brutal consequences, according to the report. Poor people, in particular, would suffer as the threat of food and water shortages increase in some parts of the world.
We have to achieve these emissions reductions over a period when the world’s economy will experience a radical transformation. Global infrastructure will have more than doubled between 2015 and 2030. The global economy will have doubled within two decades or so if it continues to grow at about 3% each year on average. And the population living in cities, where most emissions occur, will likely double in the next four decades.
Hence the next 10 years will be absolutely crucial in determining what kind of world will exist in the decades beyond.