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UN Calls For Unprecedented Changes To Limit Global Warming To 1.5°C

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The United Nations top climate panel issued a special report highlighting a number of climate change impacts that could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C.

Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would require rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society such as ditching coal for electricity to slash carbon emissions, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said on Monday.

The IPCC issued the report after a week of deliberations by hundreds of scientists and government representatives in the South Korean city of Incheon, and after three years of research to paint a picture of what could happen to the planet and its inhabitants with global warming of 1.5°C, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit.

"One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that we are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes," said Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of one of the IPCC Working Groups.

"The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C" will be a key scientific input into the Katowice Climate Change Conference to be held in Poland in December, when governments review the Paris Agreement to tackle climate change.

The landmark Paris Agreement adopted in December 2015 by 195 nations 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."

Shortly after the report was launched, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that it is not impossible to limit global warming to 1.5°C, according to the report. "But it will require unprecedented and collective climate action in all areas. There is no time to waste," he tweeted.

The special report finds some of the actions needed are already underway, but the world must move faster.

The report highlights a number of climate change impacts. By 2100, the global sea level rise would be 10 cm lower with global warming of 1.5°C compared with 2°C. The likelihood of the Arctic Ocean free of sea ice in summer would be once per century with global warming of 1.5°C, compared with at least once per decade with 2°C.

Coral reefs, already threatened, would decline by 70-90 percent with global warming of 1.5°C, whereas virtually all would be lost with 2°C, according to the report.

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