Planet has only until 2030 to stem catastrophic climate change, experts warn

Elias Hubbard
October 10, 2018

The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C was approved by the IPCC on Saturday in Incheon, Republic of Korea.

Making an unprecedented call to action, the United Nations' climate panel said that to avoid catastrophe, all countries must change the way their people eat, commute, farm and build - and the changes must kick in right away.

US President Donald Trump said he has yet to read a United Nations report warning of global warming-caused chaos unless drastic action is taken and added that he is skeptical.

Another recent report from the consulting firm PwC makes it clear that even limiting warming to 2 degrees C will be a stretch: "There seems to be nearly zero chance of limiting warming to well below two degrees (the main goal of the Paris Agreement), though widespread use of carbon capture and storage technologies, including Natural Climate Solutions, may make this possible", it says.

Its benefits would include lowering the rise in global sea level by 10 cm, the likelihood of an Arctic Ocean free of sea ice in summer once a century compared with at least once per decade and limiting the decline of coral reefs to 70-90% instead of 99%.

In reality, it seems far more likely that the world will "overshoot" the 1.5 degree mark, causing irreversible harm. "You know, which group drew it", Trump said on the White House's South Lawn.

Limiting global warming would also give people and ecosystems more room to adapt and remain below relevant risk thresholds, added Pörtner.

Of course, these two methods will need a lot of global political engagement in an increasingly short time, and with certain big player administrations like Trump's now stalling worldwide cooperation, that 2030 deadline is looking more and more ominous.

To limit warming to the lower temperature goal, the world needs "rapid and far-reaching" changes in energy systems, land use, city and industrial design, transportation and building use, the report said. By the year 2030, global human-caused emissions of Carbon dioxide would need to fall by roughly 45 percent relative to 2010 levels.

To provide sufficient incentive to reduce carbon emissions that quickly would require a carbon tax of $27,000, the report estimates-almost double the current price of emitting a ton of carbon under California's cap-and-trade program.

Still, Cleetus says that we have most of the technology we need to make the change. But that number is an average of temperatures all over the globe, so some places will become significantly hotter. "The next few years are probably the most important in our history".

Experts have said "unprecedented" should take place and said the report should urge governments to invest in clean growth and renewable energy.

A new assessment published by the UN's climate change panel yesterday had some striking words of warning to the global population, particularly when it comes to the limiting of global warming by a further 0.5°C than what had initially been mentioned back in December 2015.

According to Durwood Zaelke, founder of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, speaking to The Guardian in the wake of the latest IPCC report, it "fails to focus on the weakest link in the climate chain: the self-reinforcing feedbacks which, if allowed to continue, will accelerate warming and risk cascading climate tipping points and runaway warming".

Working Group I assesses the physical science basis of climate change; Working Group II addresses impacts, adaptation and vulnerability; and Working Group III deals with the mitigation of climate change. 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. The report said warmer water coral reefs "will largely disappear".

"It's telling us we need to reverse emissions trends and turn the world economy on a dime", Myles Allen, an Oxford University climate scientist and an author of the report, told The New York Times.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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