UN panel gives action plan to counter Global Warming!
UN panel gives action plan to counter Global Warming! | Credit: The Hindu

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UN panel gives action plan to counter Global Warming!

Oct 08, 2018

A landmark report released Sunday from the world's top climate change group said "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society" are required to ward off the worst impacts of global warming. If Earth warms by just 1.5 degrees Celsius over preindustrial times by 2100, rather than 2 degrees, we would see fewer life-threatening heat, drought and precipitation extremes, less sea level rise and fewer species lost.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published a report on Monday saying temperatures were likely to rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius between 2030 and 2052 if global warming continues at its current pace. 

Monday's "Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees," prepared at the request of governments which signed the 2015 Paris Agreement, outlines the impact of global warming of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels and steps needed to contain warming at that level. The report was prepared by 91 authors and review editors from 40 countries. More than 6,000 scientific references are cited and there were 133 contributing authors. It also contains more than 42,000 expert and government review comments. 

IPCC sessions are conducted behind closed doors. Governments can try and make changes to the text but changes must be agreed by consensus. In addition, IPCC scientists ensure any amendments are consistent with the scientific evidence. Writing of the report was led by three working groups - one to assess the physical scientific basis of climate change, the second to look at impacts, adaptation and vulnerability, and the third to assess climate change mitigation.

Why examine the prospects for limiting global warming to 1.5°C? Because under the Paris agreement, countries agreed that the goal should be to limit warming to below 2°C by 2100, with a nice-to-have target of capping warming at 1.5°C.

The planet has already warmed by 1°C due to human activity, and we’re seeing its consequences right now: Sea levels have risen more than 8 inches since 1880, we’re witnessing the fastest decline in Arctic sea ice in 1,500 years, and extreme weather events are becoming more damaging due to climate change — to name a few. Global warming, aka climate change, is caused by the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal that release greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, which has warmed the planet to levels that cannot be explained by natural causes.

World governments requested the report be prepared after the Paris Agreement was adopted in December 2015 to combat climate change. Nations agreed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases in order to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and aim to limit the increase to 1.5 Celsius. To limit warming to the lower temperature goal, the world needs "rapid and far-reaching" changes in energy systems, land use, city and industrial design, transportation and building use, the report said. Annual carbon dioxide pollution levels that are still rising now would have to drop by about half by 2030 and then be near zero by 2050. Every country in the world except the United States has agreed to be a part of the Paris Agreement.

"The IPCC report is a sobering reminder that we’re still not on track to achieve the goals outlined in the Paris Agreement," said Will McGoldrick of the Nature Conservancy. "If we’re serious about keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius and striving for no more than 1.5 degrees, we cannot afford further delay.”

“The good news is that some of the kinds of actions that would be needed to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius are already underway around the world, but they would need to accelerate,” said Valerie Masson-Delmotte, another co-chair of the IPCC's Working Group I.