Landmark UN Climate Change Report: Act Now To Avoid Climate Catastrophe

FLARES BURN AT SUNSET IN THE BAKKEN OIL AND GAS FIELDS IN NORTH DAKOTA. JEFF PEISCHL/CIRES/NOAA

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.”

This is the reality of our warming world and why half a degree matters. WWF
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