Research

Limiting warming to 1.5°C possible, will save 420m people

Limiting warming to 1.5°C possible, will save 420m people

Countries must take "unprecedented" action to slash carbon emissions to zero by 2050 and limit risky global warming, a key report has warned.

The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says keeping the Earth's temperature rise to only 1.5 degrees Celsius rather than the 2C target agreed to at the Paris Agreement talks in 2015, would have "clear benefits to people and natural ecosystems".

The report calls for immediate and radical action by all global governments, saying the required actions are affordable and feasible but require ambition and dedication.

Neil Thorns, of the worldwide development charity Cafod said: "This report proves that keeping global temperatures to 1.5C is a necessity, not an ambition".

"There is also a good chance that drought severity will be less in a 1.5C world, having ramifications for water availability and food security".

One of the key goals of the accord was to limit the increase in global temperature to well below 2°C relative to pre-industrial levels, and to attempt a more aspirational goal of containing the rise to 1.5°C by the end of the century.

"We are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes", said Panmao Zhai, Co-Chair of one of the IPCC Working Groups.

The Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C was approved by the IPCC on Saturday in Incheon, Republic of Korea.

"There will be 420 million people less suffering because of climate change if we would be able to limit the warming to 1.5°C level and we have certain areas in the world which are extremely sensitive", Mr. Taalas said. We can't find any historical analogies for it.

Envoys at the 2015 Paris talks asked the IPCC to study what it would take to limit warming to 1.5 degrees, a more ambitious goal than the previous 2-degree target.

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. "The UK's net carbon emissions should be reduced by 60 per cent by 2030 - and to zero by 2050 or at least 80 per cent of 1990 levels by 2050".

- It will require a huge ramp-up in renewables so they generate 70-85% of electricity supplies by 2050, while coal power's share of the mix tumbles to nearly nothing.

Lowering emissions to this degree, while technically possible, would require widespread changes in energy, industry, buildings, transportation and cities, according to the report. Joyashree Roy, professor of economics at Jadavpur University and co-author of the IPCC report said: "We have found that the burden of global warming will fall disproportionately on the poor who are not responsible for the problem if we don't meet 1.5 degree target".

Temperatures are now on track to rise 3 degrees Celsius by 2100.

Carbon capture and storage technology should be deployed to absorb remaining fossil-fuel emissions.

The planet is even closer to catastrophe than scientists previously predicted, according to a new report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

They're calling for "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes" across society to prevent world temperatures from rising by two degrees Celsius.