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

Jo Lloyd
October 11, 2018

Warming of 2C above pre-industrial levels had widely been thought of as the threshold beyond which risky climate change will occur, but vulnerable countries such as low-lying island states warn rises above 1.5C will threaten their survival.

"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".

As underlined in the assessment, which was written by leading climate scientists, achieving this goal will "require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society".

With clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems, limiting global warming to 1.5 °C compared to 2 °C could go hand in hand with ensuring a more sustainable and equitable society, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said on Monday.

However, keeping global warming below this level will require "annual average investment needs in the energy system of around $2.4 trillion (around €20.8 trillion)" between 2016 and 2035, according to the report.

Scientists are describing a new climate report as a clarion bell for scientists across the globe, but what should we be most anxious about?

IPCC released the report, "Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC", on Monday, outlining the urgent need for governments to act, quickly, to avoid worldwide catastrophe as a result of global warming.

The authors said global warming is likely to reach 1.5 deg C as early as 2030 if it continues to increase at the current rate. The planet is already experiencing the effects of global warming. However, the world has already warmed about 1 deg C since pre-industrial times.

These so-called shared socioeconomic pathways (SSPs), which focus on mitigation of and adaptation to climate change, are a fairly new innovation and draw a new dimension to climate modeling: the impact of changes in human behavior.

Coral reefs would decline by 70 per cent to 90 per cent at 1.5 deg C, whereas virtually all would be lost at 2 deg C.

Researchers found that "human caused" C02 emissions need to be cut by almost half of 2010 levels by the 2030 to starve off the worts effects of climate change. The new report will feed into a process called the 'Talanoa Dialogue, ' in which parties to the Paris accord will take stock of what has been accomplished over the past three years.

Scientists predict that any higher than 1.5°C and the effects will be irreversible. Per the IPCC, humans need to slash carbon output to 45 percent below 2010 levels by 2030 and to straight-up zero by 2050.

"The next few years are probably the most important in our history", said Debra Roberts, co-chair of IPCC Working Group II, in a statement.

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. But a lower temperature increase would allow humanity more precious time with which to adapt to the adverse conditions presented by climate change.

Former Vice President Al Gore Jr. warned that "time is running out" after the release of a United Nations special report Sunday giving the world 12 years to head off climate calamity by radically transforming "all aspects of society".

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