What the shock United Nations climate report means for Southern Africa

James Marshall
October 10, 2018

The IPCC report will be a talking point at the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland in December.

Moreover, coral reefs, already threatened, would decline by 70-90 per cent with global warming of 1.5°C, whereas virtually all would be lost with 2°C, according to the report. The EU's share of global greenhouse gas emissions fell from an estimated 17.3% in 1990 to 9.9% in 2012.

Trump announced a year ago that the United States would quit a 2015 global climate pact, citing concerns for the U.S. economy and touting fossil-fuel energy anew but alarming almost 200 signatories to the accord including close USA allies.

A spokeswoman for the state department said the USA is "leading the world in providing affordable, abundant, and secure energy to our citizens, while protecting the environment and reducing emissions through job-creating innovation".

The US, along with 180 other countries, accepted the report's summary line by line.

"With more than 6,000 scientific references cited and the dedicated contribution of thousands of expert and government reviewers worldwide, this important report testifies to the breadth and policyrelevance of the IPCC", said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC.

This means no more Carbon dioxide should be put out than is being removed by current measures, such as planting trees.

"The overarching context of this report is this: human influence has become a principal agent of change on the planet", adding that "the spread of fossil-fuel-based material consumption and changing lifestyles is a major driver of global resource use, and the main contributor to rising greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions".

Most worryingly, the IPCC's report claims that this 1.5°C increase could be reached in as little as 11 years, and nearly certainly within 20 years.

"Limiting warming to 1.5ºC is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes", says Jim Skea, co-chair of IPCC Working Group III, which worked on the report.

While energy systems play a massive role in the future of climate change, the report does not end there.

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.

"There is no definitive way to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 above pre-industrial levels", the United Nations -requested report said.

Global Warming of 1.5 °C is the first in a series of Special Reports to be produced in the IPCC's Sixth Assessment Cycle. It would also cut down on species loss and extinction and reduce the impact on various ecosystems.

It represents the starkest warning yet from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Its release has elicited calls to action from climate campaigners and policymakers the world over.

If the average global temperature temporarily exceeded 1.5C, additional carbon removal techniques would be required to return warming to below 1.5C by 2100.

Limiting the increase to 1.5 degrees would also have a dramatic impact on economic growth and development in poorer countries, which could reduce the number of people both exposed to climate-related risks and susceptible to poverty by several hundred million by 2050, it said.

"Accordingly, the world would witness greater sea level rise, increased precipitation and higher frequency of droughts and floods, hotter days and heatwaves, more intense tropical cyclones, and increased ocean acidification and salinity".

The IPCC said if global warming could be limited to 1.5C, then the world would have a fighting chance of avoiding catastrophic problems, including the inundation of coastal cities such as Perth and mass extinctions of animals and insects. Any additional emissions would require the removal of Carbon dioxide from the air. "In totality, how the rest of the world handles the climate rogue behaviour of the Trump administration will decide whether the world meets the 1.5°C goal or not".

Zaelke said: "With the wolf of climate impacts at our door, time for our counter-offensive is short".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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