Here’s what it would take to stop climate change sooner

Pauline Gross
October 9, 2018

To make matters worse, the world is already clocking in at 1-degree-Celsius warmer than preindustrial levels, which means we're more than halfway there.

President Trump, who has called climate change a "hoax", has already said the USA will pull out of the Paris Climate Accord, which this report said the world is unlikely to meet anyway.

The global temperature is now 1°C warmer than pre-industrial levels.

While warming of 2C above pre-industrial levels has widely been thought of as the threshold beyond which unsafe climate change will occur, vulnerable countries such as low-lying island states warn rises above 1.5C will threaten their survival.

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"We can make choices about which options and trade off a bit between them, but the idea you can leave anything out is not possible".

"1.5 degrees is the new 2 degrees", Jennifer Morgan, executive director of Greenpeace International, told The Washington Post after attending the finalisation of the IPCC report in Incheon, the Republic of Korea.

Virtually every path to hold the increase to 1.5 or 2 degrees includes strategies to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere either through reforestation or through technology that captures CO2 and stores it underground or uses it in industrial processes.

Overall, the authors say that current greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030.

Dr Jenifer Baxter, head of engineering at the UK's Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said the IPCC's target to generate 70-80% electricity from renewables is ambitious, adding there is a need to "look at the broader picture" and focus on reducing the carbon intensity of the whole electricity system.

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These are just a few examples taken from a depressingly long list of climate change threats that would be made significantly more risky if the temperature were to rise by 2°C or beyond by the end of the century. To have at least a 50/50 chance of staying under the 1.5C cap without overshooting the mark, the world must, by 2050, become "carbon neutral", according to the report.

Countries must take "unprecedented" action to slash carbon emissions to zero by 2050 and limit risky global warming, a key report warns. "This report gives policymakers and practitioners the information they need to make decisions that tackle climate change while considering local context and people's needs".

To ensure the planet is liveable, global Carbon dioxide emissions have to be reduced by 45% from 2010 levels by 2030 and renewables must provide up to 85% of global electricity by 2050 to meet targets.

The report also touches on the potential of clean energy technologies such as energy storage to ease the transition, though the authors note that "the feasibility of battery storage is challenged by concerns over the availability of resources and the environmental impacts of its production". In fact, this goal felt so infeasible that a second was proposed in tandem: aiming to stall at a 2-degree-Celsius (3.6-degree-Fahrenheit) rise, which scientists then considered the threshold for the most severe effects of climate change, reports Coral Davenport for The New York Times.

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".

Many illustrations are given for the difference between 1.5℃ and 2℃ worlds. At 1.5 degrees, fewer species would go extinct. "Limiting global warming to 1.5°C compared to 2°C is projected to reduce increases in ocean temperature as well as associated increases in ocean acidity and decreases in ocean oxygen levels", the report said.

Making an unprecedented call to action, the United Nations' climate panel said that to avoid catastrophe, all countries must change the way their people eat, commute, farm and build - and the changes must kick in right away. But efforts to reduce emissions are lagging in freight, aviation, and shipping, and in industry, he said.

"There were doubts if we would be able to differentiate impacts set at 1.5C and that came so clearly".

"We have very limited options for more hydro power in the United Kingdom, batteries do not yet provide the type of storage needed and other options like liquid air and hydrogen storage are still early in their development stages". The report explicitly acknowledges the human impact on climate, but instead uses the data to justify continued non-action.

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