UN Climate Change Report - Crisis as Early as 2040


Graphic Source: The New York Times

UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) paints an extremely harrowing image of the immediate consequences of global warming than previously thought.

According to the 1.5C study, which was launched after approval at a final plenary of all 195 countries in Incheon, South Korea, a slight difference of half a degree beyond 1.5C warming could cause mass food and water shortages, wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040 — a period well within the lifetime of much of the global population. Additionally, irreversible disintegration of ice sheets spreading across Greenland and West Antarctica will destabilise, causing an exponential rise in sea level.

Pro-active measures, such as transformation of the global energy system beyond what world leaders are contemplating today must be implemented to cut risk of a plight that has “no documented historical precedent”.

Emissions would need to halve over the next 12 years and zero out by 2050, implying that all of the coal plants and gasoline-burning vehicles on the planet would need to be quickly replaced with zero-carbon alternatives. The world would have to immediately integrate technology, which is still untested at large scales, to remove billions of tons of carbon emissions from the atmosphere each year.

The report has a scientific robustness that shows 1.5 degrees is not just a political concession, rather a growing recognition that a rise of 2 degrees is dangerous.

Links: 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: http://www.ipcc.ch/report/sr15/

Tanya Balwani
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E: tmbalwani-c@my.cityu.edu.hk | cityumun.com
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