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09 October 2018, 04:14 | Erica Roy
Climate change: Unprecedented action is required to curb temperature rise, says UN panel report
Coral reefs would decline by 70 percent to 90 percent with global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius, whereas virtually all would be lost with 2 degrees Celsius.
The Paris Agreement was adopted by 195 countries at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December 2015, and created to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change.
Developing nations and least developed countries have been asking developed nations, particularly the USA, to take historical and moral responsibility for being one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters.
A Summary for Policymakers of the 400-page tome underscores how quickly global warming has outstripped humanity's attempt to tame it, and outlines options for avoiding the worst ravages of a climate-addled future.
"This is not a risk we can afford to take", he said.
U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the accord previous year, invoking concerns for the U.S. economy, and has espoused pro-fossil fuel policies.
"For some people this is a life-or-death situation without a doubt", said Cornell University climate scientist Natalie Mahowald, a lead author on the report.
Global net human-caused Carbon dioxide emissions would need to fall by about 45% from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching "net zero" around 2050, says the report.
"Frankly, the more we are prepared to make changes to behavioural patterns that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the less we would need to rely later on more hard options that we don't yet fully understand like carbon dioxide removal", said Prof Jim Skea. Governments would have to increase renewable energy sources like solar and wind technology from 20 to around 67 percent, and reduce coal as an energy source from 40 percent to between 1 and 7 percent.
Limiting warming to 1.5°C is possible within the laws of chemistry and physics but doing so would require unprecedented changes, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III Jim Skea said. With a 2°C rise, the impacts can be too serious for communities to adapt.
The report compares the impacts of warming at 1.5°C against 2°C across the planet - from ecosystems on land and in oceans to the health and well being of people - and finds universal benefits in the lower target, such as 0.1 meter less sea level rise that could mean 10 million less people were exposed to related risks.
The report makes it evidently clear that a 1.5°C world would witness greater sea level rise, increased precipitation and increased frequency of droughts and floods, more hotter days and heatwaves, more intense tropical cyclones, increased ocean acidification and salinity. At the current rate of warming, the world as a whole will reach the 1.5° mark between 2030 and 2052, the report concludes. It would also cut down on species loss and extinction and reduce the impact on various ecosystems. In a sampling of three scenarios the IPCC selected to show a wide range of possible climate mitigation approaches, renewables range from a 63 to 77 percent share of electricity by mid-century. "As we go toward the end of the century, we have to get this right".
Countries must take "unprecedented" action to slash carbon emissions to zero by 2050 and limit risky global warming, a key report warns. The most-affected areas in India will be mega cities, coastal areas, high-mountain and small-island regions.
Cutting energy demand by using less of it is a highly effective step.
While businesses, sub-national governments and many countries have committed to climate action, and achieved some progress - see the $9 trillion We're Still In Campaign - slow movement from those that profit off fossil fuels and staunch resistance from parties like the Trump administration have made collective action hard.
"The window on keeping global warming below 1.5 degrees C is closing rapidly and the current emissions pledges made by signatories to the Paris Agreement do not add up to us achieving that goal", added King. Any additional emissions would require the removal of Carbon dioxide from the air. Without an active participation of the U.S., this will be impossible.
Massive and rapid transformations across societies will be needed to keep to a 1.5°C target, with dramatic cuts to fossil fuel use across all sectors of society.
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