According to a dramatic report on rising global temperatures, the world is today failing to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and is heading, instead, towards 3 degrees Celsius Tweet This!. “Rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society” will be needed, to achieve the target of a rise of 1.5 Celsius.
The report was published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and includes some key messages. “The first is that limiting warming to 1.5C brings a lot of benefits compared with limiting it to two degrees. It really reduces the impacts of climate change in very important ways,” according to Prof Jim Skea, who co-chairs the IPCC.
“The second is the unprecedented nature of the changes that are required if we are to limit warming to 1.5C – changes to energy systems, changes to the way we manage land, changes to the way we move around with transportation.” Urgent, large-scale changes from governments and individuals are thus necessary, along with massive investments every year, approximately 2.5 per cent of global gross domestic product (GDP).
What can I do?
According to the report, rapid and significant changes in four big global systems – energy, land use, cities and industry – are required. In addition, lifestyle changes by individuals are also highly important, and the study urges people to:
- buy less meat, milk, cheese and butter and more locally sourced seasonal food – and throw less of it away
- drive electric cars but walk or cycle short distances
- take trains and buses instead of planes
- use videoconferencing instead of business travel
- use a washing line instead of a tumble dryer
- insulate homes
- demand low carbon in every consumer product
Five steps to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees Celsius
- By 2030, global CO2 emissions need to decline by 45 per cent from 2010 levels
- Renewables are estimated to provide up to 85 per cent of global electricity by 2050
- Coal is expected to reduce to near zero
- Up to seven million sq km of land will be needed for energy crops (a bit less than the size of Australia)
- Global net zero emissions by 2050
What will happen if we do not take action?
According to the researchers, if we fail to keep temperature rises below 1.5 Celsius and reach two degrees of warming:
- coral reefs would be essentially wiped out
- global sea-level will rise about 10cm more
- there will be significant impacts on ocean temperatures and acidity, and the ability to grow crops such as rice, maize and wheat
Hard decisions are needed
Political leaders and governments around the globe, will have to take hard decisions. If the nations of the world do not act soon, they will have to rely even more on unproven technologies to take carbon out of the air – a both expensive and uncertain means of limiting global warming.
“They really need to start work immediately. The report is clear that if governments just fulfil the pledges they made in the Paris agreement for 2030, it is not good enough. It will make it very difficult to consider global warming of 1.5C. If they read the report and decide to increase their ambitions and act more immediately, then 1.5C stays within reach – that’s the nature of the choice they face,” said Prof Jim Skea.
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