And though the comprehensive report presents a jarring portrait of the future, many of its general takeaways – including the disproportionate impact of climate change on marginalized groups and the need to drastically reduce emissions – have been accepted for years.
In an IPCC press conference Monday morning in Korea, Imperial College London’s Jim Skea took a question about the importance of reforestation vs. fossil fuel cuts as an opportunity to summarize the report’s basic message: “S$3 aying “option x or option y” is not the way that this report is framed”.
The latest research by the world’s leading body on climate change highlighted that the promises countries have made so far to cut their emissions would put the world on track for 3C of warming by the end of the century.
Should governments fail to do that within a decade, and temperatures rise more than 1.5 degrees C, there’s one more Hail Mary option.
If global emissions continue at the current rate, the 91 authors of the report predict the world will reach 1.5 degrees by as early as 2040.
Can we get climate change under control? However, many scientists are increasingly anxious about factors about which we know much less.
“This report is not a wake-up call, it is a ticking time bomb”, said Gro Harlem Brundtland, Acting Chair of The Elders in a statement.
With a global temperature increase of 1.5C, there would be a 16 per cent increase in the number of hot days whereas with 2C, this rises further to 25 per cent.
“The best way to remove carbon dioxide from the air”, explains MIT engineer Howard Herzog in his book Carbon Capture, is “to not release it into the air in the first place”, Joyce reports.
As more greenhouse gases lead to more warming, stabilising the planet’s temperature at any level will require emissions to fall to zero overall.
It also says Government policies are needed to incentivise private-sector investment in low-carbon technologies.
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. The not-so-great news? They need to accelerate. The IPCC 1.5 report starkly illustrates the difference between temperature rises of 1.5°C and 2°C-for many around the world this is a matter of life and death. Human-produced Carbon dioxide emissions would have to drop by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching “net zero” by 2050, according to the report. It is up to the policymakers to carry out necessary action for survival at 1.5°C.
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 1.5 was at the urging of vulnerable countries that called 2 degrees a death sentence. “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 (SDGs)”, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III Priyardarshi Shukla said, referring to the 17 Goals adopted by UN Member States three years ago to protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. The IPCC also included one scenario that would overshoot the 1.5°C target.
“There were doubts if we would be able to differentiate impacts set at 1.5C and that came so clearly”.
“Only with a radical transformation of our energy, food and economic systems, embracing environmental, social, gender and economic justice, can we prevent climate catastrophe and temperature rises exceeding 1.5°C”.
At 1.5 degrees, the report finds that 70 to 90 percent of tropical coral reefs will vanish. The lower level would mean the Arctic Ocean would be free of sea ice in summer only once per century not at least once a decade under the higher target.
“We have very limited options for more hydro power in the United Kingdom, batteries do not yet provide the type of storage needed and other options like liquid air and hydrogen storage are still early in their development stages”. When the next climate talks happen this December, the new report is created to give governments the incentive to go much further, faster.