Friday, 15 February, 2019

United Nations climate report calls for immediate action to curb global warming

Placard reads United Nations climate report calls for immediate action to curb global warming
Theresa Hayes | 10 October, 2018, 14:43

The Paris agreement committed to limit warming to well below 2 degrees, and pursue the even harder goal to limit it to 1.5 degrees.

Co-chair of IPCC Working Group I, Panmao Zhai, said: "One of the key messages that come out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of one degree Celsius of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic Sea ice, among other changes". He supports this prediction by reflecting on the United Nations agreements to address substances that were causing an ozone hole, such as chlorofluorocarbons, "there were many people saying this would be enormously expensive and hard and then once we actually set about reducing emissions of chlorofluorocarbons it was a non-event".

The EPA's acting administrator, Andrew Wheeler, told The Post recently that the USA would remain engaged in United Nations work on climate change, despite Trump's stated plan to withdraw from the Paris accord. Any additional carbon dioxide emissions would require removing the harmful gas from the air. One of them, who didn't want to be identified, told The Hindu that the report gave a more comprehensive assessment of the differences in a 1.5C world and 2C world and quantified the carbon dioxide that would need to be removed from the atmosphere to achieve this. The group says a major slowing of warming is critical to avoid disaster.

The scientists said the report was meant to guide more than just governments, however, and that action by everyone - including individuals and businesses - would be required to hold the line on climate change.

The report, which encompasses more than 6,000 scientific references, has found that some of the most severe climate change scenarios could be felt at an even lower temperatures of global warming, occurring decades earlier than expected.

In addition, insects and plants will be almost twice as likely to lose half of their habitat if global temperatures rose by 2°C as compared to if they went up by 1.5°C.

The lower target would also reduce species loss and extinction and the impact on terrestrial, freshwater and coastal ecosystems, the report said.

The IPCC report is undeniably grim, but its authors state that the 1.5°C target can still be met if unprecedented, wide-ranging action is taken straight away. The US$2.4 trillion that the climate change panel has calculated as necessary investments is nearly seven times more than that.

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

"The report shows that we only have the slimmest of opportunities remaining to avoid unthinkable damage to the climate system that supports life as we know it", said Amjad Abdulla, the IPCC board member and chief negotiator for an alliance of small island states at risk of flooding as sea levels rise.

Her government has also approved new fossil fuel projects, including last week's $40-billion liquefied natural gas plant in British Columbia, which will increase emissions from the energy sector.

"The US is pretty much on target to reach its (climate) targets at least in the short-term - the market is driving this", said McCarthy, who ran the EPA under Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, from 2013 to 2017.

But success "depends on political leadership", he added.

Countries in the southern hemisphere would see the most drastic effects.

But he says our habits are already causing devastating impacts.

Professor Jim Skea, from Imperial College London and one of the report researchers, said: "The changes that would be needed to keep global warming to 1.5C are really unprecedented in terms of their scale".