Catastrophic climate effects could hit by 2040, United Nations report says

10 Octobre, 2018, 02:46 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • The Great Barrier Reef off the northeastern coast of Australia in December 2017

The 2015 Paris Agreement - which applies to Hong Kong - highlighted the need to limit the rise in average temperatures to 2 degrees over the century from pre-industrial levels to stave off the worst and irreversible effects of climate change, while "pursuing efforts" to achieve 1.5 degrees.

What do you make of this latest report? "If the current warming rate continues, the world would reach human-induced global warming of 1.5°C around 2040". The report was prepared under the scientific leadership of all three IPCC working groups.

Greens climate spokesman Adam Bandt said the report showed it was "time to hit the climate emergency button", and neither major party was prepared to take the necessary steps. "If action is not taken it will take the planet into an unprecedented climate future". The National Oceanographic Centre in Southampton calculated that sea level rise caused by temperatures exceeding 1.5C would cost £10.7trillion a year by 2100.

This little-noticed treaty has nothing to do with the Paris accord, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change negotiations that have dragged on since 1992, or energy sector emissions, which have resumed their rise.

"Scientists are increasingly aware that every half degree of warming matters", Chris Weber, WWF's global climate and energy lead scientist, said in a statement.

"It's really disappointing. It's a real failure that the U.S. government isn't helping people understand there's a train coming down the track fast at us and we need to get out of the way". That's because to confine global warming to 1.5°C, the world needs to cut emissions by 45 per cent by 2030.

While 1.5 degrees was the 2015 commitment even keeping that promise is going to be a challenge, according to Professor Mark Howden, the director of the Climate Change Institute at the ANU and an IPCC author. More than 90 scientists wrote the report, which is based on more than 6,000 peer reviews.

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Clearly, that deceivingly small half-degree difference has the potential to bring about significantly worse effects.

"One of the key messages that comes out very strongly from this report is that 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 IPCC Working Group I.

Presumably, the United Nations report will build support for firms such as Vestas and other companies in the business of reducing climate change-likely to be a growth industry for years.

"The next few years are probably the most important in human history", Debra Roberts, head of the Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department in Durban, South Africa, and an IPCC co-chair, told AFP news agency. The limited temperature increase would result in the saving of at least some of the world's coral reefs, a key ecosystem supporting global fisheries. The 1.5C cap was set out past year in the worldwide Paris Agreement.

Industries and investors need to be bold and far-sighted, for example by cutting all links to fossil fuels and supporting a carbon price. There was no mention of oil in this context in the summary.

But the report said the efficacy of measures, such as planting forests, bioenergy use or capturing and storing CO2, were unproven at a large scale and carried some risks. And the idea may become increasingly relevant as world leaders prepare to meet in Poland this December, where they will finalize the Paris Agreement's rulebook-a set of guidelines for how individual nations should outline their climate action plans and report their progress.

Climate change should not be a divisive political issue. The election of Donald Trump-who pledged to pull the USA out of the Paris Climate accord and aims to roll back transportation and power-plant emissions standards-has galvanized investors, building support for funds focused on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, as Barron's reported.

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