Why we’re closer to climate catastrophe than we thought

Ismael LynchOct 12, 2018

Impacts of climate change, from droughts to rising seas, will be less extreme if temperature rises are curbed at 1.5C above pre-industrial levels than if they climb to 2C, the UN-backed study said. However, limiting the global temperature rise to 1.5℃ as opposed to 2℃ can help in reducing poverty as well as reduce losses in yields of maize, rice, wheat and other cereal crops, mainly in Asia.

A new report says society would have to carry out "unprecedented" changes to the way it operates to keep global temperatures from rising or it risks increases in heat waves, storms and drought.

It was Trump's first reaction to the report, which says that the Earth surface has warmed one degree Celsius (1.8 degrees Fahrenheit) and is on track toward an unliveable 3C or 4C rise.

Scottish Greens' co-convener Patrick Harvie said: "We've always challenged the government to go further in its response to unsafe climate change".

Limiting warming to 1.5°C is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III Jim Skea said.

"The good news is that some of the kinds of actions that would be needed to limit global warming to 1.5ºC are already underway around the world, but they would need to accelerate", one researcher said. The half degree change would impact nature significantly as up to 90% of warm water coral reefs are predicted to disappear when global warming reaches 1.5℃, however, it the reefs will still have a 10% rate of survival, which is higher than what will survive when the temperature reaches 2℃.

The report finds that limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require "rapid and far-reaching" transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities.

Greenhouse pollution must be reduced by 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030 and 100 per cent by 2050. Problematically, the effectiveness of the negative emissions techniques that would be relied upon in such a scenario is unproven on a large scale.

The report will be a key scientific input into the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland in December when governments will review the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change.

"It's a line in the sand and what it says to our species is that this is the moment and we must act now", Debra Roberts, cochair of a working group on the impacts of climate change, tells The Guardian.

That could reduce flooding and give the people that inhabit the world's coasts, islands and river deltas time to adapt to climate change.

Reports from the IPCC, an global body that assesses climate change established by the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Meteorological Organization, carry a lot of weight. "The next few years are probably the most important in our history".

The date, which falls well within the lifetime of many people alive today, is based on current levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

If 1.5 degrees of warming does occur, Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam, including countries like Japan, China, Egypt, and the USA will experience increased flooding by 2040.

The consequences of a 2 degrees rise in global warming will be devastating scientists have warned.

"Any credible pathway to meeting the 1.5 degree scenario must focus on emissions rather than fuel", Katie Warrick, interim chief executive officer of the WCA, said after reviewing a draft of the report.

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