New Climate Change Report Sounds Global Alarm ー Is Anyone Listening?

'Unprecedented' action needed to prevent 1.5C of global warming by 2030

"There [has been] exponential growth in the last five years in solar, wind and batteries that is significantly changing electricity systems around the world", Peter Newman, a sustainability scientist at Curtin University, Bentley, Australia, said during the Sunday briefing.

A newly published special report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) cautions that humanity must make rapid and unprecedented changes to all facets of society if it is to limit global warming to 1.5°C (2.7°F), and so mitigate the potentially devastating effects of global warming.

"Every extra bit of warming matters, especially since warming of 1.5ºC or higher increases the risk associated with long-lasting or irreversible changes, such as the loss of some ecosystems", the report said. The report emphasises the need for placing climate change at the centre of all national and global agendas. We expect to lose 75 to 90 percent of coral reefs by 1.5°C; at 2.0 °C, that number is over 99 percent.

The 2015 Paris Accord (which no major industrialised country is now on track to meet) set out to prevent more than 2 degrees Celsius warming from preindustrial times.

The report "is quite a shock, and quite concerning", said Bill Hare, an author of previous IPCC reports and a physicist with Climate Analytics, a nonprofit organisation.

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.

Global temperatures have risen 1 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels, researchers said, citing human activity and greenhouse gas emissions.

The land area at risk is projected to be approximately 50 per cent lower at 1.5°C compared to 2°C.

Joerj Roeglj, one of the study's lead authors from the Imperial College in London, said the Paris promises were "clearly insufficient to limit warming to 1.5C in any way".

The report said renewable energy would need to supply 70-85 percent of electricity by 2050 to stay within a 1.5C limit, compared with about 25 percent now. It is time the worldwide community united against the USA for stalling a positive outcome. When the next climate talks happen this December, the new report is created to give governments the incentive to go much further, faster.

There is some good news.

Global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching "net zero" by around 2050. This is hard, and would require rapid and unprecedented economy-wide transformation in each country. Among other measures, the IPCC says, coal needs to be all but eliminated as a source of electricity, renewable power must be greatly expanded, and "negative-emissions" strategies that suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere need to be adopted on a large scale, particularly if emissions reductions are delayed. It would involve upscaling of low-carbon technologies in all carbon-intensive sectors of the economy, energy efficiency and enhancement of carbon sinks for sequestering carbon globally.

The Association said the report says that, historically, "scalability and speed of scaling of nuclear plants have been high in many nations", noting that France implemented a programme to rapidly get 80% of its (electrical) power from nuclear.

These are just a few examples taken from a depressingly long list of climate change threats that would be made significantly more unsafe if the temperature were to rise by 2°C or beyond by the end of the century. Global CO2 emissions may need to peak around 2020. The world would now keenly watch if and how the European Union revises its long-term targets for its climate strategy. Technologically, economically, and politically the challenge is enormous, "indicative both of the scale of the challenge and the resistance [the effort will] face", notes Shindell, who also contributed to the report. It is up to the policymakers to carry out necessary action for survival at 1.5°C. Together we build journalism that is independent, credible and fearless. Carbon capture and storage may help to some extent, but this infrastructure runs the risk of locking us into a fossil fuel-based system.

A new, long-term Hong Kong decarbonisation strategy for up to 2050 will incorporate the latest findings from United Nations climate scientists, city environment officials have said.

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