Science

United Nations warns world must take "unprecedented" steps on global warming

United Nations warns world must take

Preventing an extra single degree of heat could make a life-or-death difference in the next few decades for multitudes of people and ecosystems on this fast-warming planet, an global panel of scientists reported Sunday.

To have a chance of meeting the 1.5 degrees goal, climate-changing emissions would have to plunge 45 percent by 2030 compared to 2010 levels, the report said.

The IPPC report represents "sobering assessment of the challenge we face, and of the risks and costs of a warming planet", Caroline Theriault, a spokeswoman for Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, said.

The study was urgent because CO2, the main greenhouse gas, reached record levels in the atmosphere previous year, and current pledges to cut emissions under the Paris Agreement would lead to warming of about 3 deg C.

The 1.5-degree scenario will require cutting Carbon dioxide emissions by as much as 45 percent over the 20-year period from 2010 to 2030 and to a net zero by 2050-net zero meaning that all Carbon dioxide released will need to be captured and stored or reused.

Limiting the temperature rise to 1.5º C would make it easier to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, said Priyardarshi Shukla, cochair of IPCC Working Group III.

The US government also intends to freeze mandates that ensure new cars pollute less and cut limits on the greenhouse gas methane that is released during oil production.

Greenpeace's Kaisa Kosonen summed up why the report matters: "Scientists might want to write in capital letters, "ACT NOW IDIOTS", but they need to say that with facts and numbers".

At 1.5 degrees, the report finds that 70 to 90 percent of tropical coral reefs will vanish.

"It's clear that the consequences of acting slowly are devastating for the planet and our way of life", said Merran Smith, executive director of the group Clean Energy Canada.

The landmark Paris Agreement adopted in December 2015 by 195 nations at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 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".

The review of thousands of scientific papers also said the spread of disease and economic damage and harm to yields of crops will be less severe at 1.5C than 2C, as will the extinction of species.

Romer pointed out that "once we start to try and reduce carbon emissions, we'll be surprised that it wasn't as hard as we anticipated".

Chris Mooney, covers climate change, energy and the environment for the Washington Post. This dimming effect could have already saved the world from as much as 0.5 C warming that might have been expected from the quantities of carbon now in the air, according to Johan Rockström, chief scientist at Conservation International.

Taalas says governments have about 30 years to stop using fossil fuels and limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Developing nations and least developed countries have been asking developed nations, particularly the United States, to take historical and moral responsibility for being one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters.

Preventing an extra single degree of heat could make a life-or-death difference in the next few decades for multitudes of people, scientists found. This would require a massive swing to renewable energy, with any residual emissions being scrubbed from the atmosphere using carbon dioxide capture and storage (CCS), and carbon dioxide removal (CDR) technologies.

"Many parts of the world will see mean temperature increases that, in time, will be higher than 1.5°C, including the South West of Western Australia", Dr Kala said.



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