Climate change: Council adopts conclusions - Consilium

Catherine McKenna

Catherine McKenna

In any non-nightmarish scenario, world leaders would gather together upon receipt of this report, generated by highly respected scientists at the top of their game (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), and work overtime to solve the worldwide and systemic problems stemming from overuse of dirty energy sources such as coal and the mass production of greenhouse gases, for two.

Prepared by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change‚ the report says that "urgent and unprecedented" changes are needed to reach the target.

Climate scientists have been studying the effect of a global temperature rise of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) over preindustrial levels and have determined that is the maximum possible warming before sea level rise, drought, and other climate-change effects become catastrophic.

Monday's report is three years in the making and is a direct result of the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. The Paris agreement committed to limit warming to well below 2 degrees, and pursue the even harder goal to limit it to 1.5 degrees.

The IPCC warns, however, there is a stark difference between 1.5 and even 2 degrees Celsius of warming.

Its benefits would include lowering the rise in global sea level by 10 cm, the likelihood of an Arctic Ocean free of sea ice in summer once a century compared with at least once per decade and limiting the decline of coral reefs to 70-90% instead of 99%.

In the report, all scenarios rely in some way on so-called Carbon Dioxide Removal technologies, such as afforestation, reforestation, soil carbon sequestration, and the largely untested and controversial BECCS - bioenergy with carbon capture and storage.

The dramatic report warned that the planet is now heading to warm by 3C.

While British Columbia could never turn the tide of warming alone, climate change is a collective problem that requires a collective response, said Donner.

Global warming has shifted from being largely theoretical to a tangible reality.

Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan today said India did not wait for any report to realise that climate change posed a threat and made all efforts to combat global warming.

The authors said global warming is likely to reach 1.5 deg C as early as 2030 if it continues to increase at the current rate.

The Paris Agreement, from which the USA has effectively withdrawn under the Trump presidency, commits countries to "holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels". "We need to halve greenhouse gas emissions globally by 2030 and cut coal use by two-thirds by the same date".

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.

"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.

World Wildlife Fund Australia campaigner Monica Richter said the collective action of individuals will play a key role in ensuring accountability from government and businesses. "The next few years are probably the most important in our history", she said.

Wired is a lot less diplomatic about the crisis: If we don't keep emissions at a steady 1.5 degree temperature rise in the next dozen years followed by going carbon-neutral by 2050, "the consequences will be disastrous".

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