Societal changes needed for global warming

12 October, 2018, 12:28 | Author: Emilio Conner
  • Tackling transport is essential for Britain to cut its overall greenhouse gas emissions

The report issued Monday by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says the planet will reach the crucial threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels by as early as 2030, precipitating the risk of extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people. A coalition of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) said that the report showed that previous commitments to limit warming to 2ºC would not be enough to protect millions of their citizens.

The special report was requested by 195 nations when they adopted the Paris Agreement in December 2015 at the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the UNFCCC.

"We've told you the scientific facts, the evidence, the costs; it is up to the governments now to decide what to do with it", says Jim Ski, a co-chair of this panel, who calls on the globe's governments to come together to fight climate change.

A new United Nations report warns of the unprecedented changes needed by society to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

The warning: Governments need to take "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society" to avoid the disastrous effects of global warming, the report says. Currently, however, the world is on track to see between 2.7 and 3.4 degrees of warming, the IPCC has said. One of the biggest losers if we reach 1.5°C?

Lowering emissions to this degree, while technically possible, would require widespread changes in energy, industry, buildings, transportation and cities, according to the report. The in-depth report's title: Global Warming of 1.5°C, an IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty, leaves very little doubt as to what the report is about.

Allowing the global temperature to temporarily exceed or "overshoot" 1.5 °C would mean a greater reliance on techniques that remove Carbon dioxide from the air to return global temperature to below 1.5 °C by 2100. Problematically, the effectiveness of the negative emissions techniques that would be relied upon in such a scenario is unproven on a large scale.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Australia would meet its emissions reduction targets, but he also wants to keep power prices low. Halting global warming would mean half as many people on Earth would suffer from lack of water and that there would be fewer deaths and illnesses from heat, smog and infectious diseases, according to the report.

Monday's report was produced by three IPCC working groups.

Institutional investors, such as insurers, could face transitional risks, where governments and citizens, fearing potential catastrophic impacts of climate change, respond aggressively to decarbonize the economy, and assets in fossil fuels become stranded investments as the sector plunges on the markets.

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.

At the current rate of global warming, the world's temperatures are set to increase by another 1.5C between 2030 and 2052.

"The construction and property industry in the United Kingdom is an economic juggernaut, and our buildings account for approximately 30 per cent of carbon emissions". Why shoot for 1.5 degrees?

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