Trump questions United Nations global warming report

Gwen Vasquez
October 11, 2018

Limiting global warming's temperature rise to 1.5ºC would require "rapid, far-reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society", the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said in a damning new report. Corals have already been battered by our current rise in global temperatures, which has risen by 1°C over the past 150 or so years.

The report notes differences between allowing global temperature to rise by 1.5 and 2.0 degrees Celsius, and says that in order to get greenhouse emissions down 45% by 2030, it'll have to be curbing emissions, altering lifestyles, and planting trees "acting in concert at the same time".

The headlines about cutting emissions by 45% by 2030 and getting nearly all of our electricity from renewables by the middle of the century, are all very well but a key point of this report is that successfully limiting climate change to 1.5C is not just down to cutting emissions or making lifestyle changes or planting trees - it is all of that and then some, acting in concert at the same time. We need to make to make major changes in transportation, buildings, industry, and how we use land. The new report concludes that "a price on carbon is central to prompt mitigation", but to really change anything, that tax would need to be $135 to $5,500 per ton of carbon dioxide by 2030, and $690 to $27,000 per ton by 2100.

Earth is already two-thirds of the way to reaching this disastrous level, and according to co-chair of the IPCC, Panmao Zhai, the planet is already feeling the effects through more extreme weather, rising sea levels, and diminishing Arctic sea.

Even if warming is kept at or just below 1.5 degrees C, the impacts will be widespread and significant.

"Every half a degree of warming matters", said IPCC Chair, Hoesung Lee.

The IPCC report, which was produced with the help of 91 authors and review editors from 40 countries, was approved over the weekend at a meeting in South Korea.

However, she says Canada will not increase its targets to cut emissions until the plan laid out in 2016 is fulfilled.

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However, this does not mean that limiting global warming to 1.5°C will leave us safe.

Personal changes might include everything from eating less meat to using energy-efficient appliances and reducing air travel, said Patricia Pinho, a Brazilian climate scientist and report author. The Paris agreement committed to limit warming to well below 2 degrees, and pursue the even harder goal to limit it to 1.5 degrees.

"Finally, in light of references to the Paris Agreement in the Summary for Policy Makers, we reiterate that the United States intends to withdraw from the Paris Agreement at the earliest opportunity absent the identification of terms that are better for the American people", they wrote.

Jim Skea, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group says, "We've told you the scientific facts, the evidence, the cost, it is up to the governments now to decide what to do with it".

He said by 2050, renewables would need to generate between 70 and 85 percent of global electricity to meet a 1.5°C target. "The next few years will be critical in the evolution of these efforts". And carbon dioxide emissions must reach net zero around 2075 - meaning the amount of carbon dioxide entering the atmosphere equals the amount being removed. Problematically, the effectiveness of the negative emissions techniques that would be relied upon in such a scenario is unproven on a large scale.

Main image: Wind turbines in the foreground of a coal power station at Frodsham Marsh in Cheshire, England. Despite the report's dire warnings, there is no indication such cooperation will be doable, particularly given the Trump administration's stance on this issue.

"My focus is making sure we actually do what we said we were going to do and then we can be more ambitious", McKenna said.

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