New IPCC report emphasizes the urgency to act

Largest clarion bell from the science community

On Mon­day, Octo­ber 8, the ground­break­ing cli­mate change report by the Inter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate change IPCC was released, the new report being the most impor­tant cli­mate change report ever. It is overly alarm­ing and shows that we actu­ally have no time to waste.

“The next few years are prob­a­bly the most impor­tant in our his­tory,” Debra Roberts, Co-​Chair of IPCC Work­ing Group on impacts, said.

“It’s a line in the sand and what it says to our species is that this is the moment and we must act now. This is the largest clar­ion bell from the sci­ence com­mu­nity and I hope it mobilises peo­ple and dents the mood of com­pla­cency.”

Cli­mate change, or bet­ter, the cli­mate cri­sis, is one of the largest threats of all times, if not the largest.
At present, our world expe­ri­ences the effects of a global tem­per­a­ture rise of 1°C above pre-​industrial level and these effects are already seen every­where around the world: Soar­ing tem­per­a­tures, heat waves, dimin­ish­ing Arc­tic sea ice, ris­ing sea lev­els, droughts, wild­fires, weather extremes with hur­ri­canes, tor­na­dos etc.
Cli­mate change rep­re­sents an urgent and poten­tially irre­versible threat to human soci­eties, all species, ecosys­tems, and the whole planet.
That’s why the over­whelm­ing major­ity of coun­tries around the world, 195 nations, adopted the Paris Agree­ment in 2015 with the aim to limit global tem­per­a­ture rise to 1.5 °C.

The next few years are prob­a­bly the most impor­tant in our his­tory.Debra Roberts

Ninety-​one authors and review edi­tors from 40 coun­tries pre­pared the new IPCC report in order to study this limit, what it means to the world and how it could be achieved.
The report’s full name is: “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.”
The 91 authors and review edi­tors pre­pared the report sum­ma­riz­ing and cit­ing more than 6,000 sci­en­tific ref­er­ences on cli­mate change and the con­tri­bu­tions of thou­sands of experts and gov­ern­ment review­ers world­wide.
You can find the full report and the Sum­mary for Pol­i­cy­mak­ers here.

The sci­en­tists make it very clear that cli­mate change is already hap­pen­ing all around the world, and they are warn­ing that every frac­tion of addi­tional warm­ing, every half a degree, wors­ens the impact and could lead to dis­as­trous, poten­tially irre­versible effects.
As Hans-​Otto Pört­ner, Co-​Chair of IPCC Work­ing Group II put it: “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 IPCC sci­en­tists urgently warn the world of a global tem­per­a­ture rise exceed­ing 1.5°C, while lim­it­ing it to 1.5ºC requires a tran­si­tion unprece­dented in scale: “rapid, far­reach­ing and unprece­dented changes in all aspects of soci­ety.”
They also say that this is pos­si­ble ”within the laws of chem­istry and physics” if the per­sonal and polit­i­cal will is there and that the wider oppor­tu­ni­ties and ben­e­fits are huge, actu­ally so huge that they are decid­ing upon our sur­vival and that of all other species and future gen­er­a­tions!

The report points out that to limit global warm­ing to 1.5 C, global car­bon diox­ide emis­sions need to fall by about 45% by 2030 from 2010 lev­els (that is 58% below the 2015 emis­sions, due to lat­est fig­ures of the Global Car­bon Project), and would have to come down to zero emis­sions by 2050.

The Sum­mary for Pol­icy Mak­ers presents some of the key find­ings of the Spe­cial Report rel­e­vant to global warm­ing of 1.5°C and gives a com­par­i­son between global warm­ing of 1.5°C and 2°C above prein­dus­trial lev­els.

An addi­tional half-​degree of warm­ing would mean greater losses for all kind of species and their habi­tats. Half a degree more means the dif­fer­ence between a world with coral reefs and Arc­tic sum­mer sea ice and a world with­out them. Coral reefs would already decline by 70-​90 per­cent with global warm­ing of 1.5°C, whereas vir­tu­ally all (> 99 per­cent) would be lost with 2ºC.

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