Friday, 19 October, 2018


United Nations report calls for urgent action to avert catastrophic climate change

Methane emissions from cattle and sheep have increased 10 per cent since 1990 JANE SANDERS FAIRFAX NZMethane emissions from cattle and sheep have increased 10 per cent since 1990
Bennie Garza | 09 October, 2018, 16:15

"Several regional changes in climate are assessed to occur with global warming up to 1.5 degree Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels, including warming of extreme temperatures in many regions (high confidence), increases in frequency, intensity, and/or amount of heavy precipitation in several regions (high confidence), and an increase in intensity or frequency of droughts in some regions (medium confidence)".

At current rates of greenhouse gas emissions, Earth will zoom past the 1.5°C signpost around 2040, and as early as 2030. "Even the scientists were surprised to see how much science was already there and how much they could really differentiate and how great are the benefits of limiting global warming at 1.5 compared to 2", Thelma Krug, vice-chair of the IPCC, told Reuters. Global net emissions of carbon dioxide would need to fall by 45 per cent from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach "net zero" around 2050.

Society would have to enact "unprecedented" changes to how it consumes energy, travels and builds to meet a lower global warming target or it risks increases in heat waves, flood-causing storms and the chances of drought in some regions as well as the loss of species, a United Nations report said on Monday. The Paris Agreement was aimed at keeping global warming below 2°C, and to try for 1.5°C if possible.

The planet will begin to see the effects of climate change sooner ー and more broadly ー than experts originally thought, according to a landmark report by a United Nations commission of dozens of climate scientists released Monday.

The report's authors take at least one optimistic tone on carbon capture technology, which has so far been too expensive to implement widely but could hold promise for reversing emissions even after the 1.5 degree benchmark is breached.

Key points in the report include maintaining the current global temperature at 1.5ºC.

More frequent or intense droughts, such as the one that almost ran the taps dry in Cape Town, South Africa, as well as more frequent extreme rainfall events such as hurricanes Harvey and Florence in the United States, are also pointed to as expectations as we reach the warming threshold. Coral reefs, which risk decline by more than 99% at 2C, would reduce by 70 to 90%.

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

The report underlines how even the smallest increase in the base target would worsen the impact of recent natural disasters.

"Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5 C or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems", said Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II.

That benchmark is lower than the one set by the global Paris Agreement, which aimed to prevent the planet from warming by 3 degrees Celsius.

The report reads, "Human activities are estimated to have caused approximately 1.0 degree Celsius of global warming above pre-industrial levels, with a likely range of 0.8 degree celsius to 1.2 degree celsius. And a total wipe-out of the world's coral reefs". Instead, it questioned the science, challenged the link between poverty and climate change, opposed inclusion of equity in the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) and reiterated that it intends to pull out of the Paris Agreement, or be open to renegotiation at terms favourable to Americans.

The IPCC, the UN's top climate panel, issued the report from Incheon, Republic of Korea, where for the past week, hundreds of scientists and government representatives have been pouring over thousands of inputs 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).

The latest research by the world's leading body on climate change highlighted that the promises countries have made so far to cut their emissions would put the world on track for 3C of warming by the end of the century.

Global leaders and climate activists have held up the dire consequences of climate change for decades, with many businesses more recently joining the refrain.

Getting more than half of the world's electricity from renewable sources, like solar and wind power, in just over 10 years. And atmospheric carbon dioxide removal techniques would need to be employed on a truly significant scale. The technology to do this is in the early stages of development and many researchers say it could be hard to develop it for use on a global scale. Doing so would certainly require massive investments, but they would pay off.

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