Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

'Unprecedented' climate steps are needed, United Nations says

A chart that's part of a new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows a range of global warming pos Temperatures to rise 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030-2052 without rapid steps: UN report
Cary Marshall | 10 October, 2018, 23:00

The report comes as Canada is embroiled in a new round of political arguments about the best way to proceed, with the federal Liberals' planned national price on carbon being challenged by a growing number of provincial governments. These omissions may mislead world leaders into thinking they have more time to address the climate crisis, when in fact immediate actions are needed.

"The IPCC understates a key risk: that self-reinforcing feedback loops could push the climate system into chaos before we have time to tame our energy system".

Current government commitments to curb climate change under the Paris pact, even if fully met, would still leave the world on track for warming of about 3 degrees Celsius, scientists said.

But how can a few degrees make such a big difference - and why is 1.5 so important? The report is relatively optimistic that this can be done, but only with unprecedented commitment and cooperation from governments, industry, religious and secular leaders, and citizens around the world.

World Wildlife Fund Australia campaigner Monica Richter said food waste is one area where consumer decisions can make an impact on global warming. "In this sense, a successful outcome in Katowice will be a first and most crucial step towards achieving the Paris Agreement's goals of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees and pursuing efforts towards 1.5 degree celsius", said the UNFCCC in a statement. Instead, it risks setting up feedbacks that could fall like risky dominos, fundamentally destabilizing the planet.

Unfortunately, it seems that those who said we're already too late in saving the planet from the effects of climate change were right. At 2 C, everything from melting sea ice to droughts, famines and floods will be significantly worse than at 1.5 C, the report says. Adding another 0.9 degrees on top of that - the looser global goal - essentially means a different and more challenging Earth for people and species, said another of the report's lead authors, Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland, Australia.

Even with the promises countries have made as part of the Paris Agreement to cut the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, the world is set to breach the 1.5C threshold by around 2040. Mass flooding could take over coastlines and change geography as we know it.

More news: Donald Trump says he likes Taylor Swift's music less post-endorsement

The day after an global panel of scientists issued a stark warning about the short window in which world leaders can act to avoid catastrophic climate change, the president of the United States didn't comment on whether the USA accepts or will act on the findings.

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".

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.

Reduce carbon emissions by 45%

.

The IPCC report doesn't list country-wise impacts.

Climate scientists are not known for giving good news, and the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that convened in South Korea was no exception: the scientists that compiled a special report on the climate situation on the planet slapped optimists in the face: the world needs to spend US$2.4 trillion every year until 2035 to slow down the effects of climate change. These, after all, are the spaces where climate change has a tendency to disappear once the headlines move on again. To bridge this gap, we need to start by addressing the issue at the in-between level - with our family, friends, and the spaces and places of civil society.

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