United Nations report calls for urgent action to avert catastrophic climate change

Wednesday, 10 Oct, 2018

The targets rely on increased use of renewable energy, to the point that they product 70 to 85% of electricity supplies by 2050.

The IPCC study, which took almost three years to complete and involved 91 authors from 40 countries, is the first to look in detail at the 1.5 deg C limit, which is one of the goals in the 2015 UN Paris Climate Agreement.

As underlined in the assessment, which was written by leading climate scientists, achieving this goal will "require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society".

By 2030, global carbon dioxide emissions must be 45% less than they were in 2010, the report found. Currently, however, the world is on track to see between 2.7 and 3.4 degrees of warming, the IPCC has said.

Professor Corinne Le Quere, from the University of East Anglia, said: "For the United Kingdom, this means a rapid switch to renewable energy and electric cars, insulating our homes, planting trees, where possible walking or cycling and eating well - more plants and less meat - and developing an industry to capture carbon and store it underground". "Consequently, limiting global warming to 1.5°C is projected to reduce risks to marine biodiversity, fisheries, and ecosystems, and their functions and services to humans, as illustrated by recent changes to Arctic sea ice and warm water coral reef ecosystems".

While 1.5 degrees was the 2015 commitment even keeping that promise is going to be a challenge, according to Professor Mark Howden, the director of the Climate Change Institute at the ANU and an IPCC author.

A limit of 1.5° in global warming is feasible - but will still have far greater implications than previously thought, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), while inaction will have major consequences.

A spokeswoman for the state department said the USA is "leading the world in providing affordable, abundant, and secure energy to our citizens, while protecting the environment and reducing emissions through job-creating innovation".

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.

But we now have a better idea of how bad 1.5 degrees C of warming looks, since we've already heated the world by about 1 degree Celsius over pre-industrial levels by sending greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

"Although the report might appear miserable at first glance, it actually shows the pathways to limit warming to 1.5 degrees and how it is achievable". "But it will require unprecedented and collective climate action in all areas". India, as will the rest of the world, will continue to experience increasing negative impacts as the temperature rises, albeit much lesser than the calamitous effects of a 2°C warmer planet. Working Group I assessed the physical science basis of climate change; Working Group II addressed impacts, adaptation and vulnerability; and Working Group III dealt with the mitigation of climate change.

In the Indian subcontinent, the IPCC report specifically mentions Kolkata and Karachi among cities that could face an increased threat of heat waves.

"The government will take into account. the recommendations of the [council] and. the IPCC's special report to draw up Hong Kong's long-term decarbonisation strategy up to 2050 by the end of 2019 or early 2020", the spokesman said.

The review of thousands of scientific papers sets out the impacts of temperature rises of 1.5C compared to 2C, and what is needed to curb temperatures at that level. So far, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that he's "not going to spend money on global climate conferences and all that nonsense", while Deputy PM Michael McCormack described the landmark United Nations warning as "some sort of report" and said Australia will "absolutely" keep relying on coal-fired power.

Using carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, the share of gas-fired power would need to be cut to eight percent and coal to between zero and two percent.