New United Nations report details looming climate crisis

Landmark UN global warming report carries life-or-death warning

If global warming continues at its current rate and if countries fail to take unprecedented measures to curb the increase, temperatures are likely to rise by 1.5 degrees Celsius between 2030 and 2052, a United Nations panel said in a new report. For example, by 2100, global sea level rise would be 10 centimeters lower with global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius compared with 2 degrees Celsius. The report emphasises the need for placing climate change at the centre of all national and global agendas.

"Within the next decade or so, we will need to radically change the way we build our houses, move from one place to another and grow our food", said 350.org in a statement.

"We make no apology for the fact that our focus at the moment is getting electricity prices down", she said.

Lowering emissions to this degree, while technically possible, would require widespread changes in energy, industry, buildings, transportation and cities, the report says.

Carbon emissions need to reach "net zero" by 2050 and almost halve from 2010 levels by 2030.

"Frankly, the more we are prepared to make changes to behavioural patterns that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the less we would need to rely later on more hard options that we don't yet fully understand like carbon dioxide removal", said Prof Jim Skea.

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Using carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, the share of gas-fired power would need to be cut to 8 percent and coal to under 2 percent.

The report also warned coral reefs will decline by 70-90 percent if global warming is limited to 1.5 degrees, whereas virtually all (more than 99 percent) would be lost if temperatures rise 2 degrees.

"That represents the opportunity over time to see those ecosystems re-flourish", he said.

The report highlights a number of climate impacts that could be avoided by limiting global warming to 1.5 °C compared to 2 °C, or more.

The Great Barrier Reef off the northeastern coast of Australia in December 2017.

According to Greenpeace India, with an ambitious target of 175 GW of renewable energy by 2022, India can indeed help in keeping global temperature rise below 1.5 degree celsius, but at the same time India's needs to relook at its future energy investments into coal and oil. It further stated that India is one of the countries which is at risk if the global average temperature breaches the 2℃ mark.

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Responding to the report, Prof Corinne Le Quere, from the University of East Anglia, said: "For the United Kingdom, this means a rapid switch to renewable energy and electric cars, insulating our homes, planting trees, where possible walking or cycling and eating well - more plants and less meat - and developing an industry to capture carbon and store it underground".

Associate Professor Bronwyn Hayward, from New Zealand's University of Canterbury, is one of the lead authors of the IPCC report.

The larger import of the finalised report's findings was not much different from that of the drafts that had leaked out earlier, though the negotiations between government representatives and scientists did end up substantially altering how much confidence the governments placed on different findings based on the scientific evidence underlying the summarised take-aways.

"These systems transitions are unprecedented in terms of scale, but not necessarily in terms of speed, and imply deep emissions reductions in all sectors", the IPCC said in the report.

He said: 'We know what is needed to limit global warming to 1.50C and we can do it relying mostly on proven technologies such as decisively scaling up renewable energy and halting deforestation.

He said small changes like altering diet, limiting heating and cooling usage, and using public transport rather than a vehicle can also help the planet. He says that researchers will provide a more comprehensive look at the numbers in the next full climate assessment, which is scheduled to be released in 2021. "The power of this report is that it's not a simple thing anymore to say governments get going and fix it for us".

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