ECU atmospheric professor weighs in on new climate change report

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According to the report, "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society" are needed to keep global temperatures from rising more than 1.5 degrees.

While warming of 2C above pre-industrial levels has widely been thought of as the threshold beyond which risky climate change will occur, vulnerable countries such as low-lying island states warn rises above 1.5C will threaten their survival. Scientists attribute the temperature rises and extreme weather mainly to greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide from fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas.

Swiftly reducing emissions - even with carbon removal - will also require unprecedented levels of global cooperation, a particular challenge as some national governments, like that in the United States, look increasingly inward.

Vardhan also expressed confidence that with all the steps in place, "India would be able to combat climate change". About as you'd expect: by referring to strategies to reduce emissions as "all that nonsense", and dismissing the UN's comprehensive evidence and warning as "some sort of report".

Further problems could be caused if Donald Trump carries through his plan to pull the USA out of the deal, which could lead to others following suit.

In short, the scientists say the world has only a dozen years to tackle climate change to avoid some of its most devastating effects.

Overall, the authors say that current greenhouse gas emissions must be reduced by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030.

The study was urgent because CO2, the main greenhouse gas, reached record levels in the atmosphere previous year, and current pledges to cut emissions under the Paris Agreement would lead to warming of about 3 deg C. But IPCC also adds that the effectiveness of CO2-capturing technologies is still unproven on a large-scale.

So the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was tasked with providing the answers.

"The next few years are probably the most important in our history", said Debra Roberts, co-chair of IPCC Working Group II, in a statement.

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The IPPC report represents "sobering assessment of the challenge we face, and of the risks and costs of a warming planet", Caroline Theriault, a spokeswoman for Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, said. Yesterday's report points out that actually, 2°C would be really, really bad, and the world needs to take immediate, drastic action to have any chance of keeping climate change to 1.5°C instead.

"We are in for serious impacts", Freedman said.

A landmark United Nations report paints a dire picture of the catastrophic consequences the world will face if immediate action is not taken to limit the global warming to 1.5°C, warning that at 2°C, the world could see 10 cm more global sea level rise, loss of all coral-reefs and worsening food shortages. Global warming of 1.5°C may force many marine species to relocate to higher altitudes and deal a blow to many ecosystems. Right now it's hard, but not impossible, to contain climate chaos.

The world has already warmed by about 1 degree since preindustrial times, two-thirds of the way toward the new target. That will cause coastlines to become inundated and storms more severe, intensifying poverty in coastal regions and islands, particularly in the tropics.

Perhaps a more startling prediction: the world's population will see these changes by 2040, well within the lifetime of billions of people.

National pledges made as part of the Paris Agreement still mean we are on course for warming of about 3℃ by 2100, meaning four of the five "reasons for concern" would then be in the high to very-high risk category.

In 2010, worldwide negotiators adopted a goal of limiting warming to 2 C since pre-industrial times. Without an active participation of the USA, this will be impossible.

The report was prepared at the request of governments when the global pact to tackle climate change was agreed in Paris almost three years ago. When the next climate talks happen this December, the new report is created to give governments the incentive to go much further, faster. In the aggregate they are larger if global warming exceeds 1.5 degrees C. Some impacts may be long-lasting or irreversible, such as the loss of some ecosystems.

The report's release is expected to energize the annual United Nations.

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