Today, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations body to assess the science of climate change, unleashed their Special Report on the impact of global warming reaching 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
In short, one of the world's main climate targets – to keep global warming below 2°C – is not strict enough and could still lead to catastrophic, irreversible damage to our ecosystems. To avoid such a fate, we need rapid, immediate, and “unprecedented” change in the fields of energy, land use, infrastructure, and lifestyle
Over the past week, leading scientists and diplomats have been fine-tuning the content of the report in Incheon, South Korea. Poring over 6,000 peer-reviewed scientific studies, they attempt to provide a clear view of what’s at stake if climate change is not addressed and what we can do about it to stabilize a temperature rise of 1.5°C by 2100.
"This IPCC report is set to outline a rescue plan for humanity," said Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director of Greenpeace International, speaking at a press conference in South Korea on Thursday.
At the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015, international leaders agreed to keep global warming “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels” with the hopes to limit this to just 1.5°C. As this report makes clear, the science now shows that the 2°C target won’t be enough.
“1.5°C is the new 2°C,” Dr Chris Weber, Global Climate and Energy Lead Scientist at WWF, told IFLScience.
“The target of 2°C is now thought to be a lot worse than we originally believed, which means we really have to push for the 1.5°C target. It is not a viable choice to aim for 2°C based on what we know about extreme weather and other feedback cycles that take hold around 2°C.”