8 Oct (NucNet): The world’s leading climate scientists have warned there is only a dozen years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5C, beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and poverty for hundreds of millions of people.
The authors of the landmark report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released today say urgent and unprecedented changes are needed to reach the target, which they say is affordable and feasible although it lies at the most ambitious end of the Paris agreement pledge to keep temperatures between 1.5C and 2C.
Limiting global warming to 1.5°C will require “far-reaching and unprecedented changes” such as ditching coal for electricity to slash carbon emissions, the report said.
In a number of “pathways” assessed in the report several energy supply characteristics are evident, including growth in the share of energy derived from low carbon-emitting sources including nuclear.
By mid-century, the majority of primary energy comes from non-fossil-fuels – essentially renewables and nuclear – in most 1.5°C pathways, the report said.
“It’s a line in the sand and what it says to our species is that this is the moment and we must act now,” said Debra Roberts, a co-chair of the working group on impacts. “This is the largest clarion bell from the science community and I hope it mobilises people and dents the mood of complacency.”
The IPCC maps out four pathways to achieve 1.5C, with different combinations of land use and technological change. Reforestation is essential to all of them as are shifts to electric transport systems and greater adoption of carbon capture technology.
The IPCC, the United Nations’ top climate panel, issued the report from Incheon, South Korea, where for the past week, hundreds of scientists and government representatives have been pouring over 6,000 scientific reports to paint a picture of what could happen to the planet and its inhabitants with global warming of 1.5°C.
“One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes,” said Panmao Zhai, co-chair of one of the IPCC working groups.
The landmark Paris Agreement adopted by 195 nations in December 2015 included the aim of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change by “holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above preindustrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.”
UN secretary-general António Guterres said shortly after the report was released today that it is not impossible to limit global warming to 1.5°C, but it will require unprecedented and collective climate action in all areas. “There is no time to waste,” he said on social media.
The report is online: https://bit.ly/2zXo2Fh