Major UN report says climate change is worse than first thought

08 October, 2018, 19:55 | Author: Myra Gill
  • Temperatures to rise 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030-2052 without rapid steps: UN report

The IPCC climate change report makes it clear that the world will witness greater sea level rise, higher frequency of droughts and floods, and heatwaves and countries like India with large populations dependent on the agricultural and fishery sectors, would be highly impacted, an environmental think-tank on Monday said.

Scientists with the United Nations issued an alarming report on Monday, warning that global temperatures could reach an irreversible tipping point as soon as 2030. That's double the pace targeted under the Paris climate agreements endorsed by nearly 200 nations in 2015.

"The policy implications of the report are obvious: We need to implement a suite of policies to sharply limit carbon emissions and build climate resilience, and we must do all this is in a way that prioritizes equitable outcomes particularly for the world's poor and marginalized communities", Cleetus added.

An increase of 1.5C will still carry climate-related risks for nature and mankind, but at a lower level than a rise of 2C, the report summary said.

Keeping the Earth's temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius means making rapid, unprecedented changes in the way people use energy to eat, travel and live or we risk even more extreme weather and loss of species, a United Nations report said on Monday.

The leading body of climate change researchers has urged world leaders to commit to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius rather than the original commitment of below 2 degrees. Temperatures would be 1.5C higher between 2030 and 2052 if the world continued at its current pace, it warned.

The likelihood of an Arctic Ocean free of sea ice in summer would be once per century with global warming of 1.5 °C, compared with at least once per decade with 2 °C. By 2100, global sea level rises would be 10 cm lower with global warming of 1.5°C compared with 2°C, and coral reefs would decline by 70-90% with global warming of 1.5°C, whereas virtually all (99%) would be lost with 2ºC.

"Projections suggest the burden of malaria could increase with climate change because of a greater geographic range of the anopheles vector, longer season, and increase in the number of people at risk, with larger burdens with greater amounts of warming, with regionally variable patterns".

Limiting warming to 1.5C is possible but will require fast and far-reaching changes to power generation, industry, transport, buildings and potential shifts in lifestyle such as eating less meat. What's more, greenhouse gas emissions need to drop.


"If [the temperature] overshoot is to be minimised, the remaining equivalent Carbon dioxide budget available for emissions is very small, which implies that large, immediate, and unprecedented global efforts to mitigate greenhouse gases are required", the report said.

"All options need to be exercised in order to achieve 1.5C", said Prof Jim Skea, an IPCC co-chair.

"The decisions we make today are critical in ensuring a safe and sustainable world for everyone, both now and in the future", said Debra Roberts, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II, in a press release.

This included a push to drop references to how historically accumulated emissions in the atmosphere, and not just the current flow of emissions, have caused climate change. "The next few years are probably the most important in our history", she said.

These so-called shared socioeconomic pathways (SSPs), which focus on mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, are a fairly new innovation and draw a new dimension to climate modeling: the impact of changes in human behavior.

The IPCC's next major report will appear in 2022. The Paris pact aims to limit the global average temperature rise to "well below" 2℃ mark (above the pre-industrial level) while aiming to limit it at 1.5℃.

To contain warming at 1.5C, manmade global net carbon dioxide emissions would need to fall by about 45 percent by 2030 from 2010 levels and reach "net zero" by mid-century, the report said.

The IPCC report was timed to feed into the December UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland, where world leaders will be under pressure to ramp up national carbon-cutting pledges which - even if fulfilled - would yield a 3C world.

Global Warming of 1.5 °C is the first in a series of Special Reports to be produced in the IPCC's Sixth Assessment Cycle.

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