Report warns of global repercussions on climate warming

Frederick Owens
October 9, 2018

Stopping climate change will cost the world £1.8trillion every year for the next two decades, says a UN-backed scientific report.

It warns that overshooting 1.5 degrees C will be disastrous.

Hitting the 1.5-degree-Celsius goal won't be easy.

The world is already experiencing around 1C of global warming, and events such as floods, storms and heatwaves like the one in the United Kingdom this summer have become increasingly likely as a result of climate change, according to experts.

And we're running out of time to thwart it. To do that, nations agreed to cut their emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases.

Warming of 2C above pre-industrial levels had widely been thought of as the threshold beyond which unsafe climate change will occur, but vulnerable countries such as low-lying island states warn rises above 1.5C will threaten their survival. Even if the world manages to shave off that extra 0.5 degrees, we'll still be well on our way to flooded coastlines, intensified droughts and debilitated industries. As Davenport reports, the new study's authors have already conceded that dampening the rise in temperature is probably "politically unlikely". Of the more than 100,000 terrestrial species that have been studied, for example, the number expected to disappear from half their range doubles between 1.5 and 2.0°C.

Limiting warming to 1.5 degrees would also give the world a better chance of avoiding major tipping points like the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

Even if the world's governments muster the political will to fully address the problem - and that is a very big "if" - they will still need technical knowhow not yet invented to curb the emissions of climate-warming gases enough to keep the world under that crucial 1.5-degree mark.

By 2050, humanity would need to cut its net emissions to zero. The US has been resisting large cuts in Carbon dioxide emissions. "But doing so would require unprecedented changes". At 2 degrees, that will be more like once per decade.

By the end of the century, if warming stops at 1.5 degrees, the sea level rise may be almost four inches lower than if it stops at 2 degrees.

After only one degree of warming, the world has seen deadly storms engorged by rising seas and a crescendo of heatwaves, drought, flooding and wild fires made more intense by climate change. These factors could trigger huge migrations of people and mass extinctions of animals.

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Asked about reports of the United States stand on the crucial report, AK Mehta, an additional secretary at the environment ministry, says, "India recognises climate change to be a real threat and we will do whatever we can in our own capacity".

U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the accord a year ago, invoking concerns for the U.S. economy, and has espoused pro-fossil fuel policies.

If the world sees 2 degrees C of warming, ice sheet collapse in Antarctica becomes far more likely. A recent U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report estimated that maintaining the administration's current course will yield a 4-degree Celsius (7-degree Fahrenheit) rise in temperature for the planet as a whole by the end of the current century. Coral reefs have a particularly dire outlook. Coral reefs would nearly entirely disappear with 2 degrees of warming, with just 10-30% of existing reefs surviving at 1.5 °C.

These effects will make certain parts of the world less habitable for humans.

This story originally appeared in the New York Post.

The report stressed the half-degree difference was life changing.

There are financial estimates of the damage, too.

"We can do it but only if the deniers, the skeptics and the comfortable wake up to what the scientists are telling us", he said. At least 70 percent of electricity supply will need to come from renewables by 2050 to stay within the 1.5C limit, compared with about 25 percent now.

Currently, a few experimental methods exist that can snatch carbon dioxide directly out of the air, but at up to $1,000 per ton of carbon dioxide, the price tag of such carbon capture is staggering-and billions of tons await extraction.

"International cooperation is absolutely imperative to limit emissions and therefore global warming and its impacts, as well as coordinating effective and widespread adaptation and mitigation", said Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, a fellow at the Climate Change Research Center at the University of New South Wales.

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