Stark warning says we have a decade to avoid catastrophic climate change

"The new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has served us a final warning that we must get our act together - now and quickly", said Sunita Narain, director general, CSE, in response to the release of the Panel's latest study.

Produced by 91 authors at the request of the group of governments which signed on to the 2015 Paris Agreement, it outlines the impact of global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsuis above pre-industrial levels, and puts forward suggestions to contain global warming below that.

Even if the world's governments muster the political will to fully address the problem - and that is a very big "if" - they will still need technical knowhow not yet invented to curb the emissions of climate-warming gases enough to keep the world under that crucial 1.5-degree mark.

"Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5ºC or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems", says Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II, one of three working groups comprising the report, in a press statement.

To limit warming to the lower temperature goal, the world needs "rapid and far-reaching" changes in energy systems, land use, city and industrial design, transportation and building use, the report said.

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.

Camera IconFederal Environment Minister Melissa Price.

A new United Nations report warns of the unprecedented changes needed by society to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 Celcius above pre-industrial levels.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, meeting in South Korea, issued a report with 91 authors and editors from 40 countries declaring that there's now a 12-year window to make "far-reaching and unprecedented changes" to avert dramatic effects of global warming.

She pointed out that USA carbon dioxide emissions in 2017 were at their lowest level since 1992, outlining an approach to climate change that has "unburdened communities, individuals, and industries by allowing them to develop and implement policies that fit their needs".

For people, it would greatly reduce the risk of water shortages, food scarcity, and poverty related to climate change.

The past 18 years have been the warmest on record since the 1850s when measurements began, he said. And that would have the side benefit of avoiding more than 100 million premature deaths through this century, the report said. Damage from 1.5 degrees of warming is estimated to be about $US54 trillion, a number that rises to $US69 trillion for 2 C temperature rise.

Currently, the world has seen 1C of warming over the past 115 years, according to a U.S. report last year. A huge percentage of reefs, from 70-90%, could still be lost with 1.5 degrees of warming.

Most worryingly, the IPCC's report claims that this 1.5°C increase could be reached in as little as 11 years, and nearly certainly within 20 years.

Global net human-caused Carbon dioxide emissions would need to fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching "net zero" around 2050, says the report. Between 10 and 30 per cent of coral reef could be saved from obliteration, according to the IPCC report.

Because of that, write The Post's Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis, the report "is being received with hope in some quarters because it affirms that 1.5 degrees Celsius is still possible".

It also says Government policies are needed to incentivise private-sector investment in low-carbon technologies.

Another says an ice-free Arctic Ocean during summer could happen once per century with a 1.5 degree rise as opposed to at least once per decade if temperatures go up two degrees. "The latter would be used as part of a now nonexistent program to get power from trees or plants and then bury the resulting carbon dioxide emissions in the ground, leading to a net subtraction of the gas from the air - bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, or BECCS".

Vanessa Coleman

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