Incheon, It is the final call, say scientists, the most
extensive warning yet on the risks of rising global temperatures.
Their dramatic report on keeping that rise under 1.5 degrees
C says the world is now completely off track, heading instead towards
Keeping to the preferred target of 1.5C above pre-industrial
levels will mean “rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all
aspects of society”.
It will be hugely expensive – but the window of opportunity
After three years of research and a week of haggling between
scientists and government officials at a meeting in South Korea, the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued a
special report on the impact of global warming of 1.5C.
The critical 33-page Summary for Policymakers certainly bears
the hallmarks of difficult negotiations between climate researchers
determined to stick to what their studies have shown and political
representatives more concerned with economies and living standards.
Despite the inevitable compromises, there are some key
messages that come through loud and clear.
“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,” says 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.”
The researchers have used these facts and numbers to paint a
picture of the world with a dangerous fever, caused by humans. We
used to think if we could keep warming below two degrees this century,
then the changes we would experience would be manageable.
Not any more. This new study says that going past 1.5C is
dicing with the planet’s liveability. And the 1.5C temperature “guard
rail” could be exceeded in just 12 years, in 2030.
We can stay below it – but it will require urgent, large-scale
changes from governments and individuals and we will have to invest a
massive pile of cash every year, about 2.5% of global gross domestic
product (GDP), the value of all goods and services produced, for two
Even then, we will still need machines, trees and plants to
capture carbon from the air that we can then store deep underground –
The report says there must be rapid and significant changes in four big
global systems: energy, land use, cities, industry. But it adds that the
world cannot meet its target without changes by individuals, urging
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 and demand
low carbon in every consumer product.
Dr. Debra Roberts, who co-chairs the IPCC, says lifestyle
changes can make a big difference.
“That’s a very empowering message for the individual,” she says.
“This is not about remote science; it is about where we live and work,
and it gives us a cue on how we might be able to contribute to that
massive change, because everyone is going to have to be involved”.
“You might say you don’t have control over land use, but you do have
control over what you eat and that determines land use.
“We can choose the way we move in cities and if we don’t have access
to public transport – make sure you are electing politicians who provide
options around public transport”.
The researchers say that if we fail to keep temperature rises
below 1.5C, we are in for some significant and dangerous changes to
You can kiss coral reefs goodbye, as the report says they
would be essentially 100% wiped out at two degrees of warming.
Global sea-level will rise about 10cm (4in) more if we let
warming go to 2C, that may not sound like much but keeping to 1.5C
means that 10 million fewer people would be exposed to the risks of
There are also significant impacts on ocean temperatures
and acidity, and the ability to grow crops such as rice, maize and
“We are already in the danger zone at one degree of warming,” says
Kaisa Kosonen, from Greenpeace.
“Both poles are melting at an accelerated rate; ancient trees that have
been there for hundreds of years are suddenly dying; and the summer
we’ve just experienced – basically, the whole world was on fire,” the
Source: Oman News Agency