New Climate Change Report Sounds Global Alarm ー Is Anyone Listening?

Professor Bronwyn Hayward of the University of Canterbury says New Zealanders will have to move urgently to cut greenhouse gas emissions

- The West Antarctic ice sheet might not kick into irreversible melting.

A world with 2°C of warming will be a planet without coral reefs.

The report drew dire headlines such as CNN's "12 years to stop climate catastrophe", and The Washington Post's "The world has just over a decade to get climate change under control, United Nations scientists say".

Limiting warming to half-degree Celsius from now means the world can keep "a semblance" of the ecosystems we have.

The report finds that limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius would require "rapid and far-reaching" transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities.

"The world is already experiencing the deadly effects of global warming at 1C", chief executive Caoimhe de Barra said. Plants, insects, animals, and marine life will all be pushed farther out of current geographic ranges with 2 degrees of warming. The Arctic, which would be ice-free about once per century at 1.5 degrees of temperature rise, would be ice-free once per decade at 2 degrees.

The scientists summarised that the already recorded rise of 1 degree in global average temperatures has led to substantial impacts.

Citing over 6,000 scientific reports and using contributions of 91 authors, the report's pathways to limit warming vary. The Report mentions that the global net anthropogenic Carbon dioxide emissions must decline by about 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030 and net-zero emission should be achieved by 2050.

The report laid out how the changes to climate, environment and human life would be less devastating and unsafe if the global temperature rise is contained at below 1.5 degree instead of 2 degree Celsius - the existing primary goal of the Paris Agreement.

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Warming of 2C above pre-industrial levels had widely been thought of as the threshold beyond which unsafe climate change will occur, but vulnerable countries such as low-lying island states warn rises above 1.5C will threaten their survival. However, the State Department said in a statement that "acceptance of this report by the panel does not imply endorsement by the United States of the specific findings or underlying contents of the report". He likened the report to an academic exercise wondering what would happen if a frog had wings.

Fellow author Valerie Masson-Delmotte said: "The report shows that we are at a crossroads".

It warns that the cost - £1,800billion - will be for all measures necessary to stop the world warming more than 1.5C to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

Doing that would require an immediate, massive, coordinated transformation of the global economic system - especially the energy system.

"We need radical and systemic change", Li said. "This is our chance to decide what the world is going to look like".

As part of the Paris Agreement in 2015, its creators 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 2ºC above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5ºC above pre-industrial levels". To do that, nations agreed to cut their emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. Scientists attribute the temperature rises and extreme weather mainly to greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide from fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas. "There [has been] exponential growth in the last five years in solar, wind and batteries that is significantly changing electricity systems around the world", Peter Newman, a sustainability scientist at Curtin University, Bentley, Australia, said during the Sunday briefing.

The IPCC report was timed to feed into the December UN climate summit in Katowice, Poland, where world leaders will be under pressure to ramp up national carbon-cutting pledges which - even if fulfilled - would yield and 3C world.

Working through the night, the closed-door huddle in rain-soaked Incheon, South Korea, was to convene a plenary later in the day to hammer through a "Summary for Policymakers". The report warns India to prepare for annual heat wave conditions and singles out Kolkata for special mention on this count. Collapse of coral reefs would be essentially ensured. But the IPCC report sidestepped questions of feasibility and focused instead on determining what governments, businesses and individuals would need to do to meet the 1.5 °C goal.

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