Landmark UN climate report warns time quickly running out

James Marshall
October 10, 2018

"There are signs that mitigation is going on, but if this is to be achieved, there is an urgent need to accelerate", said Valérie Masson-Delmotte, co-chair of the IPCC's Working Group I and a co-author of the report. President Macron's One Planet Summit followed in NY during Climate Week, bringing together leaders of finance who were optimistic that managing climate risk is not only possible, but an exciting challenge that would also be profitable as new industries arise to do the most important work the world has ever demanded.

Professor Piers Forster, a leading author of the report who lectures at the University of Leeds, said current policies put the world on course for a "super-risky 3C of warming", adding: 'The report shows that limiting warming to 1.5C is barely feasible and, every year we delay, the window of feasibility halves.

Limiting warming to the lower goal is "not impossible but will require unprecedented changes", United Nations panel chief Hoesung Lee said in a news conference in which scientists repeatedly declined to spell out just how feasible that goal is.

At current levels of greenhouse gas emissions, earth could pass the 1.5 C marker as early as 2030, and no later than mid-century, the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change reports with "high confidence".

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.

It is critical that world leaders understand the IPCC report and use it as a template for immediate action.

Keeping the 1.5°C target would keep the global sea level rise 0.1m lower by 2100 than a 2°C target, the report said. In 2015, when the nations of the world agreed to the historic Paris climate agreement, they set dual goals: 2 degrees C and a more demanding target of 1.5 degrees C from pre-industrial times.

"Did you know that 30 per cent of all food consumed by the [Australian] household goes to food waste?" she said.

When the next climate talks happen this December, the new report is created to give governments the incentive to go much further, faster. If the world were to cease all carbon-emitting activities tomorrow, the carbon already pumped into the air would still guarantee a few extra decades of warming.

To limit warming, report authors claim significant actions must be taken to change land use practices, transform the energy sector and curb industry emissions.

But the report said some measures, such as planting forests, bioenergy use or capturing and storing CO2, remained unproven on a large scale and carried some risks.

"Markets drive change more quickly than regulation".

"This report gives policymakers and practitioners the information they need to make decisions that tackle climate change while considering local context and people's needs" comments Debra Roberts, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II, which addresses the impacts, adaptation and vulnerability factors of climate change. But even with its description of the increasing impacts that lie ahead, the IPCC understates a key risk: "that self-reinforcing feedback loops could push the climate system into chaos before we have time to tame our energy system, and the other sources of climate pollution". A recent report by NDEVR Environmental predicts that Australia will miss its Paris emissions reductions targets by around one billion tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Today, I continue to believe that the Paris Agreement offers the best hope of delivering a robust and just transition to a zero-carbon, climate-resilient economy that protects lives and livelihoods, especially for the most vulnerable of the world's population.

The new IPCC report generally takes this approach.

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