Hold us back from climate catastrophe

Hold us back from climatic disaster

In its latest report released on 8 October IPCC states that carbon emissions have to be reduced by at least 49% of 2017 levels by 2030 and then achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 to meet this target of 1.5°C rise.

Limiting global warming to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels would require enormous effort from governments, industries and societies.

But even though the world has already warmed by 1 °C, humanity has 10–30 more years than scientists previously thought in which to inculcate the carbon habit.

The world is on track for around 3 degrees of warming by the end of the century if it doesn’t make major reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions. It could breach 1.5 °C sometime between 2030 and 2052 if global warming continues at its current rate.

With 1.5 °C of warming there is “high confidence” that would be a greater number of severe heat waves on land, especially in the tropics. With “medium confidence”, there will be more extreme storms in areas such as high-elevation regions, eastern Asia and eastern North America.

The risk of such severe weather would be even greater in a 2 °C world. Temperatures on extreme hot days in mid-latitudes could increase by 3 °C with 1.5 °C of global warming, versus 4 °C in a 2 °C world.

Two degrees of warming could destroy ecosystems on around 13% of the world’s land area, increasing the risk of extinction for many insects, plants and animals. Holding warming to 1.5 °C would reduce that risk by half.

The Arctic could experience ice-free summers once every decade or two in a 2 °C world, versus once in a century at 1.5 °C. Coral reefs would almost entirely disappear with 2 degrees of warming, with just 10–30% of existing reefs surviving at 1.5 °C.

Measures include increase in installation of renewable energy systems such as wind and solar power to provide 70–85% of the world’s electricity by 2050, and expanding forests and carbon sequestration to increase their capacity to pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Other proposed options involve changing lifestyles: eating less meat, riding bicycles and flying less.