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United Nations climate report calls for immediate action to curb global warming

United Nations climate report calls for immediate action to curb global warming”

Adding 50 percent more warming to reach 1.5 degrees won't simply increase impacts by the same percentage-bad as that would be.

A new United Nations report warns of the unprecedented changes needed by society to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 Celcius above pre-industrial levels.

The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C was approved by the IPCC on Saturday in Incheon, Republic of Korea.

The next major climate discussions are scheduled in December in Katowice, Poland where countries are expected to discuss rules to implement the Paris agreement.

The scientists said the report was meant to guide more than just governments, however, and that action by everyone - including individuals and businesses - would be required to hold the line on climate change.

The newly published IPCC report highlights and compares the predicted severity of numerous climate change threats in scenarios with a 1.5°C, and 2°C temperature rise.

Keeping the 1.5C target would keep the global sea level rise 0.1 metre lower by 2100 than a 2C target, the report states.

In addition, insects and plants will be almost twice as likely to lose half of their habitat if global temperatures rose by 2°C as compared to if they went up by 1.5°C. Coral reefs would decline by a still unsustainable 70 percent to 90 percent instead of being virtually wiped out under the higher increase.

"Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5 °C or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems", said Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II. According to scientific predictions laid out in the report, this amount of warming would likely make extremely hot days both more common and more severe, thus increasing the incidence of forest fires and heat-related deaths.

"International cooperation is absolutely imperative to limit emissions and therefore global warming and its impacts, as well as coordinating effective and widespread adaptation and mitigation", said Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, a fellow at the Climate Change Research Center at the University of New South Wales.

Lowering emissions to this degree, while technically possible, would require widespread changes in energy, industry, buildings, transportation and cities, the report says.

A critical step is to ensure human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) will fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching "net zero" around 2050. "The latter would be used as part of a now nonexistent program to get power from trees or plants and then bury the resulting carbon dioxide emissions in the ground, leading to a net subtraction of the gas from the air - bioenergy with carbon capture and storage, or BECCS".

"We have done our job, we have now passed on the message", Jim Skea, a professor at Imperial College London's Centre for Environmental Policy and an IPCC co-chair, said at a press conference.

A new report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests we are on our last lap, and the homestretch is even shorter than we thought.

But as Jamie Henn, co-founder and the program director for the worldwide climate group 350.org, stated in a tweet on Tuesday, the "scariest thing about the IPCC Report" is the fact that "it's the watered down, consensus version".

Drier droughts, wetter cyclones and dead coral reefs are just some of the pleasures global warming has planned for us, but all hope is not lost.

But we now have a better idea of how bad 1.5 degrees C of warming looks, since we've already heated the world by about 1 degree Celsius over pre-industrial levels by sending greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

"This report gives policymakers and practitioners the information they need to make decisions that tackle climate change while considering local context and people's needs", she said.



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