Published: Tue, October 09, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

United Nations report on global warming carries life-or-death warning

United Nations report on global warming carries life-or-death warning

The report issued Monday by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), says the planet will reach the crucial threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by as early as 2030, precipitating the risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people.

Global temperature is now rising 0.2C with each decade, and it is estimated we will reach 1.5C by 2040. Climate Change Conference, scheduled for December in Katowice, Poland, which marks the deadline for nations implementing the 2015 Paris agreement.

But evidence in the new report, in which a team of 91 scientists from 40 countries analyzed over 6,000 scientific studies, shows that the future is bleaker than once thought.

Given that current national commitments on greenhouse-gas emissionsfall well short of the goals laid out in the Paris climate agreement, many scientists have argued that meeting even the 2 °C goal is virtually impossible.

"One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes", Co-Chair of one of the IPCC Working Groups Panmao Zhai said.

And if we hold warming to 1.5 degrees instead of 2 degrees, the report suggests global sea level rise will be a whole 10 centimetres lower - potentially stopping what the report describes as a "disproportionately rapid evacuation" of people from the tropics.

The Nobel Prize-winning organisation said that the world was well off track in its goal of limiting global temperature rise to below 1.5ºC and heading for 2ºC or more.

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Jim Skea, co-chair of the IPCC working group, told Reuters that limiting warming to 1.5°C is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics, but doing so would require unprecedented changes.

Scientists have been sounding the alarm on climate change for decades, yet global emissions are expected to rise again in 2018.

The report also flags up how people could take the initiative by changing their lifestyles, from what they eat to how they travel and heat their homes.

He said the report "has sent the strongest message yet from the scientific community that the era of fossil fuels has to end soon if we are to protect the world from unsafe climate change and limit warming to 1.5°C". In the 728-page document, the United Nations organisation detailed how Earth's weather, health and ecosystems would be in better shape if the world's leaders could somehow limit future human-caused warming to just a half degree Celsius from now, instead of the globally agreed-upon goal of 1° Celsius. "Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching "net zero" around 2050", the report states.

Allowing the global temperature to temporarily exceed or "overshoot" 1.5ºC would mean a greater reliance on techniques that remove Carbon dioxide from the air to return global temperature to below 1.5°C by 2100. But the report warns that "the effectiveness of such techniques are unproven at large scale and some may carry significant risks for sustainable development".

The review of thousands of scientific papers also said the spread of disease and economic damage and harm to yields of crops will be less severe at 1.5C than 2C, as will the extinction of species.

"And now more than ever we know that every bit of warming matters", Krug said.

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Aid agency Trócaire said the report was a "clear call" for action.

"Denying the reality of climate change is not going to help anyone".

It's intended as a guide for policymakers who are aiming to limit temperature rise to the target 1.5 degrees Celsius.

While 1.5°C rise in global temperature will be precarious, a 2°C rise would be catastrophic.

The report notes that we are now at a warming of about 1.0°C, with the warming trend rolling along at 0.2±0.1°C per decade.

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

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Besides special reports, the IPCC has issued five major Assessment Reports that serve as the scientific foundation for United Nations climate talk.

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