'Unprecedented' action needed to prevent 1.5C of global warming by 2030

'Unprecedented' action needed to prevent 1.5C of global warming by 2030

While warming of 2C above pre-industrial levels has widely been thought of as the threshold beyond which risky climate change will occur, vulnerable countries such as low-lying island states warn rises above 1.5C will threaten their survival.

Countries are already seeing an increase in extreme weather and rising sea levels as a result of the increase in average global temperatures of 1 degree above pre-industrial levels that has already occurred, the IPCC study said.

The assessment was released after three years of research and a week of tough negotiations between scientists and government officials at a meeting in South Korea.

"This is concerning because we know there are so many more problems if we exceed 1.5 degrees C global warming, including more heatwaves and hot summers, greater sea level rise, and, for many parts of the world, worse droughts and rainfall extremes", Andrew King, a lecturer in climate science at the University of Melbourne, said in a statement.

An Associated Press article poignantly captures what the IPCC said in its "gloomy" report: That "preventing an extra single degree of heat" - meaning the 2 degrees C mark - "could make a life-or-death difference in the next few decades for multitudes of people and ecosystems on this fast-warming planet".

Lowering emissions to this degree, while technically possible, would require widespread changes in energy, industry, buildings, transportation and cities, according to the report.

Stephanie Pfeifer, chief executive of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) which represents investors with trillions of pounds of assets under management, said the report showed limiting global warming to 1.5C is what was needed.

Similarly, when it comes to heat waves, in a world that's warmed by up 1.5C, about 14% of the population are exposed to a heat wave every five years.

Former Vice President Al Gore Jr. warned that "time is running out" after the release of a United Nations special report Sunday giving the world 12 years to head off climate calamity by radically transforming "all aspects of society". Countries with arid and semi-arid climates and those with more continental locations will also warm more than those with predominantly humid and maritime conditions.

"With more than 6,000 scientific references cited and the dedicated contribution of thousands of expert and government reviewers worldwide, this important report testifies to the breadth and policyrelevance of the IPCC", said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC.

What is of particular concern is that the report lowers the level after which disastrous climate change is anticipated: Previous research had set the critical threshold at 2ºC of warming. Among other measures, the IPCC says, coal needs to be all but eliminated as a source of electricity, renewable power must be greatly expanded, and "negative-emissions" strategies that suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere need to be adopted on a large scale, particularly if emissions reductions are delayed.

According to NASA, global temperatures are already 0.9 degrees Celsius higher than at the end of the nineteenth century.

"Limiting global warming to 1.5 °C compared with 2 °C would reduce challenging impacts on ecosystems, human health and well-being, making it easier to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals", said Priyardarshi Shukla, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III. Starting in 1994, a central aim of the UN's climate change efforts (the Framework Convention on Climate Change, or UNFCCC) was to stabilise greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that would "prevent unsafe anthropogenic interference with the climate system".

Neither Premier Ford nor Mr. Kenney have yet said what policies they would employ to cut emissions, or whether they support Canada's objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 - a commitment made under the Paris accord. For instance, by 2100, global sea level rise would be 10 cm lower with global warming of 1.5°C compared with 2 °C. In any case these are also the countries responsible for much of the emissions in the atmosphere.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has effectively delivered a final call on world leaders to take urgent action to stop the planet from overheating. To hit and keep that 1.5 degrees target, net anthropogenic Carbon dioxide emissions must come down 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net zero around 2050. Countries need to undertake massive de-carbonisation while the developed countries must also address consumption in their countries.

But really whacky ideas, such as blocking out the Sun, or adding iron to the oceans have been dismissed by this IPCC report.

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