Saturday, 20 October, 2018


Major UN report says climate change is worse than first thought

AFP  Getty Images- Getty Images Major UN report says climate change is worse than first thought
Bennie Garza | 10 October, 2018, 07:27

- And it just may be enough to save most of the world's coral reefs from dying. He says there is still time for people to change their behavior to stop an increase in greenhouse gas releases.

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.

How much more urgent can it get?" and "Science pronounces its verdict: "World to be doomed at 2°C, less unsafe at 1.5°C" and "A major new climate report slams the door on wishful thinking".

Such "carbon removal" might happen by developing better technology to take out carbon dioxide from the atmosphere - now an extremely expensive process - or by planting many more forests that could be harvested and burned for energy, with emissions pumped into underground storage. While the United Nations panel says technically that's possible, it saw little chance of the needed adjustments happening.

If the world sees 2 degrees C of warming, ice sheet collapse in Antarctica becomes far more likely. At 2 degrees, that will be more like once per decade.

Another recent report from the consulting firm PwC makes it clear that even limiting warming to 2 degrees C will be a stretch: "There seems to be nearly zero chance of limiting warming to well below two degrees (the main goal of the Paris Agreement), though widespread use of carbon capture and storage technologies, including Natural Climate Solutions, may make this possible", it says. We're expected to hit that 1.5-degree mark around 2040.

Around 6 percent of insects, 8 percent of plants, and 4 percent of vertebrates are projected to be negatively affected by global warming of 1.5°C, namely by shrinking their natural geographic range, compared with 18 percent of insects, 16 percent of plants and 8 percent of vertebrates for global warming of 2°C.

The new report sets those levels much lower and measures devastating climate change effects much sooner. On current trends the 1.5°C threshold could be reached as early as 2030.

"By refusing to endorse the findings of the IPCC's 1.5 degree celsius report, the U.S. has again given a clear signal that it would continue with its climate regressive agenda, which includes obstructing the work of the UNFCCC and promoting fossil fuels like coal and gas", said Chandra Bhushan, deputy DG of the CSE. It's therefore important for all the nations to make efforts towards limiting the warming.

Greenpeace's Kaisa Kosonen summed up why the report matters: "Scientists might want to write in capital letters, "ACT NOW IDIOTS", but they need to say that with facts and numbers".

This little-noticed treaty has nothing to do with the Paris accord, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations that have dragged on since 1992, or energy sector emissions, which have resumed their rise.

This goal will require aggressive efforts by countries. "This is our chance to decide what the world is going to look like".

Looking at the past decade alone, a number of record-breaking storms, forest fires, heatwaves and floods have already been triggered all around the world as a result of this first 1°C increase in global temperature. Annual carbon dioxide pollution levels that are still rising now would have to drop by about half by 2030 and then be near zero by 2050. In their conclusions, environment ministers recall the progress made in recent months by the European Union on legislation which delivers on its commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Economies would have to shift away rapidly from burning coal, oil and gas and invest heavily in renewable energy. One recent report calculated the benefits at $26 trillion.

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