Tue, Oct 09, 2018 - Page 1 News List

‘Unprecedented’ climate steps are needed, UN says

SLIM CHANCE:A report by the IPCC said lowering the target for the Earth’s temperature rise could provide both societies and ecosystems time to adjust

Reuters, LONDON and INCHEON, South Korea

World Meteorological Organization secretary-general Petteri Taalas speaks at a news conference yesterday at UN headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, on the intergovernmental panel’s special report on climate change.

Photo: AP

Society would have to enact “unprecedented” changes to how it consumes energy, travels and builds to meet a lower global warming target or it risks increases in heat waves, flood-causing storms and the chances of drought in some regions, as well as the loss of species, a UN report said yesterday.

Keeping the Earth’s temperature rise to only 1.5°C rather than the 2°C target agreed to at the Paris Agreement talks in 2015 would have “clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems,” the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in a statement announcing the report’s release.

The IPCC report said at the current rate of warming, the world’s temperatures would likely reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 after an increase of 1°C above preindustrial levels since the mid-1800s.

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.

That could reduce flooding and give the people that inhabit the world’s coasts, islands and river deltas time to adapt to climate change.

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

“There were doubts if we would be able to differentiate impacts set at 1.5°C and that came so clearly. Even the scientists were surprised to see how much science was already there, and how much they could really differentiate and how great are the benefits of limiting global warming at 1.5 compared to 2,” IPCC vice chairwoman Thelma Krug said in an interview.

“And now more than ever we know that every bit of warming matters,” Krug added.

The IPCC met last week in Incheon, South Korea, to finalize the report, prepared at the request of governments in 2015 to assess the feasibility and importance of limiting global warming to 1.5°C.

The report is seen as the main scientific guide for government policymakers on how to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement, which is to be discussed at the Katowice Climate Change Conference in Poland in December.

To contain warming at 1.5°C, human-made global net carbon dioxide emissions would need to fall by about 45 percent by 2030 from 2010 levels and reach “net zero” by mid-century, the report said.

Any additional emissions would require removing carbon dioxide from the air.

The report summary said renewable energy would need to supply 70 percent to 85 percent of electricity by 2050 to stay within a 1.5°C limit, compared with about 25 percent now.

“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 nation at risk of flooding as sea levels rise.

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