Like heatwave could hit India again, warns Climate change report

Marsha Scott
October 9, 2018

The panel says that keeping warming to 1.5 degrees C is technically feasible, but the emissions cuts pledged so far by the nations that signed the Paris agreement fall far short of what's needed.

One of the biggest surprises leading up to the 2015 worldwide Paris Agreement on climate-changing emissions was an argument about a new goal.

The Australian government has rejected the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report's call to phase out coal power by 2050, claiming renewable energy can not replace baseload coal power.

The report is seen as the main scientific guide for government policymakers on how to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement during the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland in December.

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

At current levels of greenhouse gas emissions, we could pass the 1.5C marker as early as 2030, and no later than mid-century, the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change (IPCC) reported with "high confidence". And temperatures are expected to rise 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by 2030 if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise at their current rates, according to the report.

The report reads, "Human activities are estimated to have caused approximately 1.0 degree Celsius of global warming above pre-industrial levels, with a likely range of 0.8 degree celsius to 1.2 degree celsius".

It also highlighted the environment has already seent he consequences of 1ºC of global warming in the form of more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic Sea ice, among other changes. We expect to lose 75 to 90 percent of coral reefs by 1.5°C; at 2.0 °C, that number is over 99 percent. "And now more than ever we know that every bit of warming matters".

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Enlarge / Benefits and trade-offs of limiting global warming to 1.5 °C for different categories of development goals. But saving a mere half-degree could make a huge difference in some parts of the world.

The IPCC's "Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees" was released in Incheon, South Korea, on Monday via a livestream Internet broadcast.

Measures would have to include reducing man-made carbon emissions by 45 per cent by 2030 from 2010 levels, and reaching "net zero" emissions by 2050, the report said. Any additional emissions would require removing Carbon dioxide from the air.

"All options need to be exercised in order to achieve 1.5C", said Prof Jim Skea, an IPCC co-chair.

And it just may be enough to save most of the world's coral reefs from dying.

The effectiveness of such techniques are unproven at large scale and some may carry significant risks for sustainable development, the report notes. "Our countries are not near where they need to be on achieving the kinds of emission reduction that we need if we want to actually successfully fix the planet and reverse the changes that we've already made".

The report came as Americans William Nordhaus and Paul Romer, pioneers in adapting the western economic growth model to focus on environmental issues, won the 2018 Nobel Economics Prize on Monday. Working Group I assessed the physical science basis of climate change; Working Group II addressed impacts, adaptation and vulnerability; and Working Group III dealt with the mitigation of climate change.

The Paris Agreement was adopted by 195 countries at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2015, and created to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change. But the scheme would need to plant an area twice the size of India in biofuel crops, and assumes that some 1,200 billion tonnes of Carbon dioxide - 30 years' worth of emissions at current rates - can be safely locked away underground.

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